Israel PM vows to proceed with disputed settlement

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 13, 2013 at 11:41 am •  Published: January 13, 2013
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Asked why the protesters were removed, Netanyahu said, "They have no reason to be there. I asked immediately to close the area so people would not gather there needlessly and generate friction and disrupt public order."

Palestinian protest leaders hoped the tent camp would be the first of a new type of well planned, nonviolent protests against Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories.

In recent years, Palestinians have staged weekly rallies in some areas of the West Bank, demanding to get back land they lost to Israel's separation barrier. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has held up such tactics as worthy of emulation. The protests have remained relatively small, and media coverage has dropped off over the years.

The tent camp was set up after a month of planning by grass-roots groups using Facebook, Google Earth and other tools to find the right spot and stay in touch, said organizer Abdullah Abu Rahma.

The Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government in parts of the West Bank, provided legal assistance.

The activists said they pitched the tents on private Palestinian land and immediately obtained an Israeli court injunction preventing the removal of the tents for several days.

At the next court hearing, Israel will have to explain why it wants to take down the tents, said Mohammed Nazzal, a Palestinian Authority official whose department is involved in the legal proceedings. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he believes one of the issues in the hearing will be the status of the land where the tents were pitched.

Barghouti, meanwhile, said troops beat some of the protesters, a claim Rosenfeld denied. Rosenfeld said the protesters were carried away without injuries, put onto buses and dropped off at a West Bank checkpoint.

About half a million Israelis live in the dozens of settlements that dot the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Over the past 15 years, Jewish settlers have also set up dozens of rogue settlement outposts without formal approval, and critics say the government has done little to remove them.

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Associated Press writers Karin Laub in Ramallah and Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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