In line with the European Union and Britain's denouncements of the recent conviction and sentencing of Bil'in protest leader, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, met with Palestinian grassroots organizers. Hague held the Ramallah talks with activists from the villages of al-Ma'asara and Ni'ilin, whose residents hold regular protests against Israel's separation barrier and settlements, and with a representative of the Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem organization that promotes the use of non-violent strategies by Palestinians.
The meeting comes in the midst of an ongoing wave of repression against the Palestinian civil resistance movement by Israel. In the past two years, faced by the steady growth of the movement and its growing importance in Palestinian political discourse, Israeli forces have killed at least ten unarmed demonstrators, six of them in anti-wall protests. The Israeli military has also detained and imprisoned hundreds and hundreds of people for their part in protesting the construction of Separation Barrier, mostly apprehending them from their homes in nighttime raids - especially targeting the villages of Bil'in, Ni'ilin, Budrus and Jayyous.
During the meeting Hague voiced his and Britain's support to Palestinian nonviolence, saying that it is this kind of resistance that can gain Palestinians the insistent support of the international community.
"With negotiations at a perpetual standstill for lack of real Israeli interest in a settlement, civil resistance to the Occupation is the only viable alternative to violence Palestinians have at hand today. It is a growing movement that Israeli is terrified of", Said Mahmoud Zwahara from the al-Ma'asara Popular Committee after the meeting. "But for such a movement to prevail, its repression by military might, as Israel is engaged in today, must carry a price in the form of international pressure. This is exactly what we asked Mr. Hague to continue doing today", he added.