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Palestinians protest building of new housing in East Jerusalem

Palestinian-Israeli tensions erupt in West Bank and East Jerusalem following Fatah-Hamas meeting in Cairo on Thursday to revive reconciliation process

Ahram Online , Friday 11 Jan 2013
Palestinians, together with foreign activists, stand near newly-erected tents in an area known as E1, near Jerusalem January 11, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
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Hundreds of Palestinians on Friday set up thirty tents in Issawiya village in East Jerusalem to protest a decision by the Israeli authorities to establish 3,000 housing units for Jewish settlers.

The construction of housing in the occupied land in East Jerusalem, known as E1, could effectively cut off the northern West Bank from the south, and ultimately threaten the territorial contiguity and viability of a future Palestinian state.

"I came to this area with my family eighty years ago, and we set up our tents here early this morning to protest against the confiscation of our land," Alaa Al-Asahory, a local Palestinian resident, told Al-Ahram. 

Tensions increased after a meeting between Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Thursday in Cairo at which the two men discussed inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

At their first meeting in almost a year, Abbas and Meshaal agreed to revive a stalled reconciliation deal between the rival Palestinian factions, after holding separate talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Yousef Rizq, political advisor to the Hamas PM in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Abbas wanted the election committee to end its work creating a "consensus government" and move towards holding elections, to activate the 2011 Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal.

The two Palestinian leaders also agreed to allow Hamas a degree of representation in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which has historically been led by Fatah.

The office of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a press statement harshly criticising the meeting.

"This is not the behaviour of somebody seeking peace; Abu Mazen [Abbas] gave an embrace to the head of a terror organisation which only a month ago stated that Israeli should be wiped from the map," the Lebanese Daily Star website quoted Netanyahu as stating.

Dozens of Israeli settlers cut down almost 210 olive trees in the southern West Bank city of Nablus, Palestine's Maan News Agency reported on Wednesday.

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