April 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian officials, Arab, Israeli and foreign members of international solidarity movements on Wednesday announced that they would step up "Popular resistance " to challenge the Israeli settlement's expansion and the construction of the West Bank Separation Wall.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told an international conference held in the village of Bel 'ein, west of Ramallah in the West Bank, that the Palestinians will keep their "popular resistance as part of a step towards establishing their future independent Palestinian state."

The conference, which is called "The Fifth Conference of Popular Resistance," was held in the village, with the participation of hundreds of Palestinians, foreign activists and Israeli peace activists. It was held in the village which witnesses weekly demos against the construction of the wall.

"It's time now to end the Israeli occupation. Our people paid a high price of martyrs in order to end its suffering and its sacrifices," Fayyad told the conference, adding "the Popular Resistance is the main episode in achieving an end of the occupation."

Around 1,000 people joined the 5th conference of popular resistance, including foreigner solidarity movements' activists as well as Israeli and Israeli Arab peace activists, in addition to Palestinian activists and leaders of the PNA.

"This year will be the year of the National Project," said Fayyad, who had already announced several months ago that the Palestinians are determined to establish their independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 within the coming two years.

He said that "the National Project depends on three major principles, the first is the peaceful popular resistance, the second is the national efforts and the third the political efforts of the Palestinian National Authority to establish the state on the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem as its capital."

"We will carry on with our programs of developments in all the Palestinian territories, including territories that are still under the full Israeli control and territories were confiscated for the construction of the separation wall," said Fayyad, adding "these plans would empower the Palestinians steadfastness."

Since Israel had started to build the separation wall on the West Bank territories in 2003, the Palestinians have been carrying out weekly popular protests, where Palestinians backed by foreign members of solidarity movements and Israeli peace activists joined.

Youngsters threw stones and waved Palestinian flags, where the Israeli soldiers dispersed them by tear gas and rubber bullets. The activists carried out symbolic cultural and political activities during the weekly demos that are organized against the construction of the barrier.

In his speech in the conference, Fayyad stressed that "The Popular Resistance, which is the first step towards the establishment of the Palestinian state, is not only demonstrations and rallies, it also includes boycotting the settlements and its products.

A senior official of PNA revealed on Wednesday that it has a plan to ask all the Palestinian workers, who work in the West Bank 's Jewish settlements to quit by the end of 2011.

Ahmed Majdalani, the PNA Labor Minister, who also attended the conference in Bel'ein said in a statement published by the state- run news agency "Wafa" that by the end of 2011, there will be no single Palestinian worker that works in the Israeli settlements."

"Taking such a decision is part of the Palestinian campaign to boycott the Jewish settlements and all its products," said Majdalani, adding that "this campaign has given quick fruitful results."

He went on saying that "following the decision of boycotting the settlements' products, the number of workers, who work in the settlements, had declined to 7,000 workers only."

Meanwhile, Fayyad stressed that "in order to succeed in our mission, the Palestinian people have to be united, and end their political disputes and divisions," referring to around three years of political disputes between Islamic Hamas movement and Palestinian President Fatah party.

In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians have on Wednesday rallied near the Israeli crossing point of Erez in northern Gaza Strip, protesting the Israeli order that allows the Israeli army to evict Palestinians from the West Bank.

Representatives of the biggest rivals, Hamas and Fatah, attended the rally near Erez terminal which connects between Gaza and Israel and where only foreigners, some patients and people with special arrangement can cross.

The demonstrators tried to express unity by waving the flags of Palestine rather than the flags of their factions. One of the banners they raised had read: "Hand by hand, we face the Israeli expulsion decision."

Thousands of Palestinians, who were originally from Gaza, could be expelled from the West Bank under the Israeli order which took effect last week, including those who fled when Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007.


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