Protesters blast Kofi Annan for refusing to visit the Wall


Palestinian policemen support the door at the entrance of the Muqata’a, the Palestinian government compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after demonstrators tried to push their way through during UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s visit for talks with the Palestinian leadership, on 14 March 2005. Palestinians gathered to denounce Israel’s controversial West Bank security barrier, with protestors trying to bash down the metal gates, as Annan arrived, angry at his refusal to tour the Wall that the ICJ declared was “illegal” in 2004. (Photo: Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

Ramallah, West Bank, 14 March 2005 — While villagers were delayed, and in many instances barred entry at Occupation Checkpoints throughout the West Bank, a huge crowd of over 5,000 thronged the streets of Ramallah to protest at the gates of the Muqata’, the compound of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), where Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan was holding talks with Mahmoud Abbas.

The crowd assembled at al-Manara Square in the morning, with numbers swelling as they marched through the city to the Muqata’ to deliver a memorandum to Kofi Annan, issued by the National Committee To Resist The Apartheid Wall.

In front of the barred main gates of the PNA Compound locking out the people and their demands, rallying speeches from the representatives of the local committees to resist the Apartheid Wall buoyed the crowd. Slogans and chanting condemned the Secretary-General for the UN policy that fails to apply pressure on Israel to abide by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision that the Apartheid Wall is illegal, and must be torn down.

Anger was directed at the latest UN report on the Wall, published in February, which regards the Apartheid Wall as a matter of compensation, funding and humanitarian aid, and not as a political issue intrinsic to the whole colonial settler-based project which Israel is escalating in the West Bank. The UN report even goes so far as to adopt and give legitimacy to the Israeli position which calls the Apartheid Wall a “security” measure.

Deep hostility has been created by Annan’s refusal to visit any areas of the Apartheid Wall, or any of the refugee camps which had invited him.

These claims were also expressed in the memorandum and the various political press releases and letters sent by local committees against the Apartheid Wall to President Abu Mazen.

In spite of protestors being locked outside the gates of Muqata’, Annan could not have been deaf to the demonstrators that pounded the main gate, threatening to break it down, and their cries of “Annan, Annan - Don’t ignore The Apartheid Wall!” which reverberated through the streets. As tensions grew, Annan was forced to cut short his media conference and meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, leaving swiftly via the back entrance.

The demonstration was attended by thousands affected by the Wall; the local committees of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign from the districts of Hebron, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Salfit, Jenin, Qalqiliya, Jordan Valley, Bethlehem and Tulkarem; together with the representatives from the different parties and grassroots organizations which make up the National Committee To Resist The Apartheid Wall.

The UN’s apparent complicity to the Wall, and failure to work within the mandates of international law, draws the fate of the Palestinian people perilously close to the final solution that Sharon’s plans dictate.

Related Links

  • Fear and loathing across the Middle East, Hasan Abu Nimah & Ali Abunimah (16 March 2005)
  • Memorandum to Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, The National Committee To Resist The Apartheid Wall (13 March 2005)
  • Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign