Palestinians pitch tents in key West Bank area

DALIA NAMMARI Associated Press Published:

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- Palestinian activists pitched tents in the West Bank on Friday to protest Israeli plans to build a large Jewish settlement on a key route through the territory.

The E-1 settlement would block east Jerusalem from its West Bank hinterland -- both territories captured by Israel during the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want those areas, along with the Gaza Strip, for a future state. Critics say the E-1 settlement would be a major blow to Palestinian statehood hopes.

Activists said in a statement Friday they erected the tents to "establish facts on the ground," using a phrase often applied to Israeli settlement building.

Police said the activists were informed they were trespassing.

Israel announced it is moving forward with the E-1 settlement after the U.N. recognized a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in November. The U.S. strongly opposes the E- 1 project. Israeli officials have said construction may be years away.

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