Bethlehem. Settlers to join anti-fence protest
Photo: AFP
Settlers visit Bethlehem governor
Members of pro-peace Eretz Shalom organization meet with Palestinian officials in West Bank city, say 'we share the same future'
Bethlehem Governor Abdel Fatah Hamayel received an unusual delegation at his office on Tuesday: Three settlers from Gush Etzion.


The settlers, members of the Eretz Shalom ("land of peace") movement, arrived at the municipality's fourth floor under tight Palestinian security and met with senior Bethlehem officials for about an hour.


The settlers' two cars, which traveled on the West Bank city's streets in midday, were escorted by vehicles of the Palestinian intelligence services, some undercover.


In the governor's office, which overlooks Jerusalem and has the pictures of former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on its walls, the three met with Hamayel, a former PA minister who was jailed in Israel for 18 years over his activity in Fatah.


"We came because we share the same future," said Nahum Pachenik, head of the pro-peace Eretz Shalom organization, which aims to "bolster the moderate forces among the settlers and Palestinians."


Pachenik, a resident of the Sde Boaz outpost in Gush Etzion, was accompanied by two rabbis from the area, who asked to relay a message to the Palestinians through the governor. "There is no other choice apart from peace that comes from the people," one of them said.


The settlers and the Bethlehem officials agreed to join forces in a non-violent protest against the separation fence being built near the village of Walaja, starting this Friday. They also plan to bring Jews and Muslims together in praying for rain.



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