BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi praised Palestinian activists on Friday after hundreds of people set up protest tents in the controversial E1 corridor area near Jerusalem.
"This initiative is a highly creative and a legitimate non-violent tool to protect our land from Israeli colonial plans," a statement said.
Earlier, Palestinian activists had erected over 25 tents, called Bab al-Shams, or 'Gate of the Sun', in protest against Israeli settlements, a local activist said.
"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," Said Abdullah Abu Rahma, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bilin, told Ma'an.
Ashrawi lauded the "collective effort initiated by civil society, including youth, social, and political organizations, who came together to support the right of the owners of the land to make use of it as they see fit."
The PLO official said she fully supported and encouraged non-violent popular resistance against Israeli occupation.
The name of the village was inspired by Lebanese author Elias Khoury's novel, which tells the story of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
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.
"What is happening at Bab al-Shams is a reminder of the apartheid regime that Israel has imposed for the exclusive use of land for Jewish Israeli settlers all over Palestine," Ashrawi added.
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.