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MK Tibi joins protest against East Jerusalem highway

Feb. 10, 2013 9:08 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 7:20 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi joined hundreds of protestors on Sunday to demonstrate against the construction of a highway in an East Jerusalem neighborhood.

Protestors in Beit Safafa formed a human chain and set up tents to protest the construction of Road 4, which would confiscate part of the neighborhood's land and divide the area in two.

Tibi climbed onto a tractor at the scene, preventing it from carrying out any work, while protesters chanted slogans against the highway and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat.

Israeli police arrested three protestors at the scene.

Last year, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the Jerusalem municipality was building a highway in Beit Safafa, which would cut residents off from the local mosque, bakery and primary school, and effectively divide the south of Beit Safafa into two parts.

The highway is being built to give settlers from Gush Etzion quicker access to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Israeli daily said, noting that the highway's construction was approved in 1990.

Palestinian residents will see no benefits from the infrastructure project, and will have to use underpasses and bridges to reach the other side of Beit Safafa.

There are around 360,882 Palestinians in Jerusalem, or 38 percent of the city's population.

A report released last year by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that the "effects of annexation, neglect, rights violations, and the completion of the Separation Barrier have led to an unprecedented deterioration in the conditions" of East Jerusalem.

The report called on Israel to cease all measures that violate the basic rights of Palestinian residents.

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