Palestinians set up protest camp in E1

Palestinians set up protest tents on the outskirts of al-Quds (Jerusalem), March 20, 2013.

Amid US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, Palestinian activists have set up a protest camp on a controversial site near al-Quds (Jerusalem) where the Israeli regime intends to build thousands of illegal settler homes.

Palestinian protesters pitched some 15 tents in E1 outside al-Quds on Wednesday to express their discontent with Obama’s visit to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The demonstrators said Obama was not doing enough to stop the Israeli regime’s illegal settlement activities.

Abdullah Abu Rahma, one of the protest organizers, said the move is to send a “message to Obama to tell him: Obama – enough with bias and support for Israel.”

“This is our land and we are opposed to settlements and occupation which are backed by the US administration,” he added.

Mustafa Barghouthi, a senior Palestinian politician, also said, “We are here to send a message to President Obama, our struggle, our non-violent peaceful resistance will continue until we are free.”

The US president is set to arrive in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas later on Thursday.

Obama will only spend a few hours in Ramallah, before heading to al-Quds to deliver a speech.

Ahead of Obama’s first visit to Israel as president, Palestinians held a a similar demonstration in the occupied West Bank and defaced banners bearing Obama’s image.

E1 is a sensitive zone between East al-Quds and the West Bank and its expansion has been on Israel’s agenda since the 1990s.

More than half a million Israelis live in illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

The Israeli settlements are considered illegal by much of the international community. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the settlement construction is part of Tel Aviv’s policy and will not stop.