Palestinians gather in Ramallah to welcome Abbas home

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Thousands of Palestinians gathered outside the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to greet P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas upon his return from the United Nations.

The crowd waved Palestinian flags and cheered Sunday as Abbas declared a "popular spring for Palestine."

"We told the world that today there is an Arab spring, but also a Palestinian spring," he told the crowd, according to The Associated Press. "A non-violent fighting spring that will reach its goal. Facing this determination – which I conveyed from you to the world – everyone stood up and appreciated your expectations and aspirations."

He said, "The entire free world has accepted your history, your aspirations and your hopes with the utmost respect."

Buses sponsored by Abbas’ Fatah party and other unions brought supporters to Ramallah from cities throughout the West Bank. 

Abbas was set to meet with his Cabinet and advisers later on Sunday to discuss a proposal by the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union — to restart peace talks. Netanyahu, who has already made positive statements about the proposal, which reportedly does not include a settlement freeze, will meet with his Cabinet and advisers on Monday.

Abbas, who last Friday delivered a Palestinian petition for statehood to the U.N. secretary-general, said over the weekend that he wants to change some of the provisions of the Oslo Accords, specifically those that deal with economic relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

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