Around 200 protesters marched outside the Millennium Hilton Hotel in New York City on Tuesday as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas took over the chairmanship of the largest bloc of member states at the United Nations.

The Group of 77, or G77—a U.N. group that includes 134 developing countries—elected Riyad Mansour, head of the Palestinian mission, as its next leader for 2019.

This move came after the U.N. General Assembly held a special vote last October to elevate the Palestinian mission, which was awarded observer status in 2012, and thus make it eligible to lead the bloc.

Rabbi Zev Friedman, head of the Rambam Mesivta school in Lawrence, N.Y., brought students to protest what he called “a move on [the U.N.’s] part to give [Abbas] a sense of legitimacy so that eventually he would be granted a Palestinian state … recognition at the world body without having to negotiate directly with Israel.”

“We thought it would be prudent to have a counterweight so the narrative didn’t just be that Abbas was crowned the head of the State of Palestine and 134 other countries, plus China, but there should be a discussion in terms of who Abbas is,” he added.

Protesters in New York City against Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas as he took over the G77 chairmanship at the United Nations. Credit: Rambam Mesivta.

The protest was organized by New York City Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Stuart Force, whose son Taylor Force, a U.S. army veteran, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016 while on a graduate-student trip to Israel with a group from Vanderbilt University.

The terrorist’s family was rewarded by the P.A. as part of its “pay to slay” policy that gives money, including U.S. taxpayer funds, to terrorists and their families—a controversial system also mentioned at Tuesday’s protest.

Palestinian and human-rights activist Bassem Eid, who was in attendance, said: “I wish we could have a rally like this in Ramallah.”

The P.A. has a record of persecuting those who dissent.

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