BEIRUT: Angry Lebanese and Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in on Sunday outside the US Embassy to protest the “deal of the century,” which US President Donald Trump announced last week.
The Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces set up a perimeter using barbed wire and iron barriers on the Dbayeh Highway leading to the US Embassy in Awkar, 11 km north of Beirut.
The protesters raised Palestinian flags as well as the flags of Lebanese parties, including the Communist Party and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. They chanted in support of Palestine and in denunciation of the deal.
Protesters shouted: “Down with the deal of disgrace. All Palestine is for the Palestinians, their children, and grandchildren.”
The protesters called on all Arabs to take to the streets and stressed that “this deal will fall before the will of the Palestinian people as did the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration before, and Palestine will remain for all Palestinians.”
The sit-in became violent when the protesters attempted to remove the barbed wire to reach the perimeter.
They threw stones at the security forces. The military responded by using pepper spray, leading to protesters fainting and suffocating.
Ghassan Ayoub, a representative from the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Arab News: “The Palestinian factions did not participate in the sit-in as the call for the sit-in was Lebanese, and the Palestinian participation was symbolic.” He said that the Palestinian camps in Lebanon have been in a state of anger since Trump announced his deal.
“Palestinian refugees express their anger by staging sit-ins inside their camps and holding seminars that explain to the refugees the disadvantages and risks of the deal to the Palestinian people,” he added.
The US Embassy warned its employees 24 hours before the sit-in to avoid the area of the demonstration.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Saturday that “the Palestinian Authority decided to cut all ties with the US and Israel, including security relations, after rejecting the US Middle East peace plan.”
Trump’s plan, endorsed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state under near-total Israeli security control. It also calls for the US recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and of Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel.
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem said on Sunday: “Trump and Netanyahu must know that the resisting Palestinian people and the peoples of the region will not let this deal pass and will not allow Israel to occupy and legitimize its occupation at the same time.
“Palestine is on all the soil of Palestine, from the sea to the river, and the capital is Jerusalem, east and west, not East Jerusalem alone. This is what we believe in, and we believe it is possible to achieve it. It requires some sacrifices and time.”
Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi said: “The deal of the century is a slap to the Palestinian cause and the decisions of the UN and the Security Council taken successively since 1948.”
Al-Rahi expressed his fear that the implementation of this deal would lead to “a new conflict that would increase destruction and bloodshed, and as usual Lebanon would not be spared the outcomes.”