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Hamdallah cancels Area C village visit after Israeli 'threats'

Feb. 10, 2014 8:34 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2014 6:19 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah cancelled a visit to a village east of Jerusalem scheduled for Monday after Israeli authorities threatened to prevent the visit from taking place, Hamdallah said.

Hamdallah and European Parliament President Martin Shulz had scheduled a solidarity visit to the Area C village of al-Khan al-Ahmar, where Shulz hoped to show his support for Palestinian statehood ambitions, he said.

But an official told Ma'an that Israeli ministries of defense and foreign affairs threatened to use force, if necessary, to stop the visit from taking place, without providing further details.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the trip would have included a visit to the Bedouin village's school, an educational building made from tires and mud by villagers and international volunteers.

The school, in addition to several of the village's residential structures, have faced repeated Israeli threats of demolition on the pretext that they were built without construction permits.

A spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not answer calls.

Al-Khan al-Ahmar is a Bedouin village surrounded by the illegal Israeli settlements of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim.

Area C, which constitutes 62 percent of the West Bank, is under complete Israeli control.

Israel permits Palestinians to build on less than 1 percent of Area C land, according to UN figures.

Under the Oslo Accords, Area C was to be gradually transferred to Palestinian control within five years. But Israel has refused to withdraw its forces from the territory, citing security concerns and the absence of a final peace agreement.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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