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Israelis, Arabs Protest Settlements

March 11, 2000

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) _ Israelis and Palestinians demonstrated together Saturday in two West Bank cities against Israeli expansion, saying the construction of new Jewish settlements would threaten the region’s peace process.

Chanting ``settlements are an obstacle to peace,″ about 200 Palestinian and Israeli women protested in the Palestinian-controlled part of Hebron, a city where several hundred Jewish settlers live in an army-controlled enclave.

Jewish settlements are one of several thorny issues the two sides are to address as part of a final peace treaty set for September.

Further north in the Palestinian border town of Qalqilya, about 300 Israelis and Palestinians protested together against the confiscation of several acres of Palestinian land. An Israeli peace group said the land was confiscated to lay a water pipe for the establishment of a new settlement in the area.

The army stopped demonstrators from planting olive trees on the land just outside the Alfei Menashe settlement, the Gush Shalom peace group said in a statement. Gush Shalom organized the protest in Qalqilya.

Palestinian land owners were notified of the confiscation order last month, said land owner Faisal Abu Radi.

``Dismantle all settlements,″ read one banner in Hebrew. ``This is our land,″ said another in Arabic.

Palestinians say the more land that is taken for settlements, the less they will have for a future Palestinian state. They also complain that Israel’s expansion is cutting Palestinian cities off from each other, making it difficult to establish a Palestinian state with geographic continuity.

Israel says the construction is needed to absorb natural growth in the settlements.

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