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Palestinians Erect Tent Village During Obama Visit

As the US president backtracks on earlier statements on settlements, Palestinians resort to nonviolent resistance to reclaim land and draw attention to their plight, writes Dalia Hatuqa.
Palestinian activists stand near newly-erected tents in the West Bank village of Beit Iksa, between Ramallah and Jerusalem January 20, 2013. Palestinians pitched tents in an area of the West Bank as a protest against an Israeli barrier they said would cut villagers off from their lands. The tents were erected on Friday in the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, north of Jerusalem. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3CPA5

As US President Barack Obama wrapped up his trip to Israel and the West Bank, many Palestinians were still angry over comments he made a day earlier, in which he implied that preconditions to peace talks — including a freeze on settlement construction — would just delay the inevitable: negotiations. Palestinians were expecting that settlements would at least be a red line, but were disappointed when Obama said, “Let’s not put the cart before the horse. If the only way to even begin the conversations is that we get everything right at the outset … then we’re never going to get to the broader issue.”

Many observers took this to be a reversal of the stance he held during his first term. At that time, Obama was adamant that a halt to settlement construction was a precondition to renewing talks between Palestinians and Israelis. And while a 10-month settlement halt was agreed upon, negotiations never took off and have, in fact, stalled since.

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