Palestinians pitch tents in key West Bank area

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian activists pitched tents in the West Bank today 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 today they erected the tents to “establish facts on the ground,” using a phrase often applied to Israeli settlement building.

Israel announced it is moving forward with the settlement after the U.N. recognized a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in November.

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