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Palestinian activists set-up protest tents in E1 area

Jan. 11, 2013 1:07 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 13, 2013 11:35 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Palestinian activists set up protest tents on Friday in the controversial E1 corridor area near Jerusalem as part of the non-violent resistance movement against Israel's occupation, a local group said.

Said Abdullah Abu Rahma, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bilin, told Ma'an that Palestinian activists had set up the village of Bab al-Shams, or 'Gate of the Sun', in protest against Israeli settlements.

"We will not be silent while settlements and the colonization of our land continues, and confirm that the village will endure until the rightful owners of the land are installed," Abu Rahma said.

Over 25 tents and a medical clinic have been set-up in the E1 area by protestors from all over the West Bank.

The name of the village was inspired by Lebanese author Elias Khoury's novel, which tells the story of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

"Israel has imposed facts on the ground for decades amid the silence of the international community, and the time has come to change the rules of the game, we are owners of this land and we will impose the reality on the ground," Abu Rahma said.

Although there was no immediate response from the Israeli authorities, police and soldiers in the past have moved quickly to shut down any such spontaneous Palestinian camps

In December, Israel announced plans to build some 3,000 settler homes in the E1 corridor near Jerusalem, drawing widespread international condemnation.

Britain, France and several other European countries summoned Israeli envoys to protest the plan, while President Mahmoud Abbas called the E1 area "a red line that cannot be crossed."

Construction in E1 would divide the West Bank and make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state - as envisaged by the internationally backed two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - almost impossible.

Settlement building is illegal under international law.

Reuters contributed to this report
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