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Palestinian Authority rejects Bethlehem settler visit

March 29, 2013 9:36 A.M. (Updated: March 31, 2013 2:46 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority says it rejects Israeli plans to bring a group of settlers to the historic Solomon's Pools site near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

On Thursday the deputy governor of Bethlehem, Mohammad Taha, told Ma'an that the decision was a "flagrant violation" of the Oslo Accords which designate areas of control in the occupied territories. The pools are in Area A -- the 17 percent of the West Bank under the full control of the Palestinian Authority.

Taha said the Palestinian Authority would act to prevent settlers from entering the area. He was to meet with a Bethlehem security commander Thursday to discuss the issue.

The official called on Palestinians to reject the visit.

The visit, scheduled for Sunday, was to be accompanied by Israeli soldiers, according to Israeli media. The group planning the trip is from a school in the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

"Thanks to the cooperation with the army we will return to a land of ancestors that was given to the Palestinians after the Oslo accords," the school's principal Yaron Rosenthal said.

Israel has only rarely approved settler visits to the pools since 1995, when the Palestinian Authority took control of the area.

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