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Protests in West Bank, Gaza and Iran Against Annapolis Conference


There were more protests Tuesday in the Palestinian territories and in Tehran against the Mideast peace conference now under way in Annapolis, Maryland. VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem protests in the West Bank were broken up by Palestinian police.

Tens of thousands turned out in the Gaza Strip for a large march organized to protest the Mideast peace conference in Annapolis. The Gaza protest was organized by Hamas militants who were not invited to the conference because they refuse to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Hamas has been organizing daily protests against the peace conference for several days now and Hamas leaders have stepped up their criticism of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling him a traitor to Palestinians.

Speaking Tuesday, Ismail Haniyeh, a leading Hamas figure called on Arab countries to work to lift what he described as the siege on Gaza.

Haniyeh also says Arab countries should not be an accomplice to a summit that he says has nothing to offer Palestinians.

A number of Arab countries are represented at the conference, including Saudi Arabia and Syria, two Arab nations that do not recognize Israel.

The Hamas demonstration in Gaza on Tuesday was largely, peaceful unlike much smaller protests in the West Bank. A protest march in the West Bank city of Ramallah, was broken up by Palestinian police. Much smaller protests in the West Bank towns of Hebron, Nablus and Jenin were also dispersed by police. Officials of President Abbas' Fatah-led government have imposed a temporary ban on all public gatherings related to the Mideast conference.

Recent polls have found that on average 70 percent of Palestinians support Palestinian participation at the Mideast conference in Annapolis. However the same polls say that 60 percent of Palestinians do not believe the conference will yield long term benefits for Palestinians.

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