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Jewish Settlers March to Protest New Policies, Against Peace Talks

Jews opposed to the new Rabin government policy of curtailing settlements in Arab areas demonstrated in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank town of Kiryat Arba on Monday.

The protests appeared timed to coincide with the resumption of peace talks in Washington.

About 50 Jews marched through East Jerusalem. The protest was organized by the Forum for Jerusalem, an organization composed of several right-wing members of the Jerusalem City Council and the Knesset, and several East Jerusalem settlement movements, including Ateret Cohanim and Atara Leyoshna.

Carrying banners and Israeli flags, the protesters began their march in Beit Orot in East Jerusalem, and ended at the Lion’s Gate in the Moslem Quarter of the Old City.

Flanked by several soldiers and a dozen journalists, the protesters chanted “Jerusalem of Gold” as they marched through the Arab neighborhood of A-Tur.

Their path was chosen “to retrace the route” of the Israel Defense Force paratroopers “who stormed the Old City in 1967,” according to Rabbi Benny Elon of Beit El.

“We are marching today because we are in favor of Jewish settlement in Jerusalem as a whole, and in the Old City in particular,” said Yossi Peled, a member of Knesset from the Tsomet party.

“We fear that the new government is taking steps to limit the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem,” he said.

BROOKLYN COUNCILMAN JOINS IN

The group was joined by New York City Councilman Dov Hikind, in Israel on a family vacation, who said he was marching “to express my support for fellow Jews who are making every effort toward the liberation of Jerusalem.”

The councilman, who represents the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, said, “I have the largest constituency of Jews in the state legislature, and I am really expressing their view that Jews should be able to live in every area of Jerusalem.”

Unperturbed by the small turnout, Shmuel Meir, the director of the Forum for Jerusalem, said he was satisfied with the march. “We wanted to demonstrate our point on the day the peace talks opened, and we succeeded.”

In Kiryat Arba, 51 settlers were detained after defying a military order declaring a controversial housing site closed.

The settlers appeared on the site, which is between the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba and the Arab town of Hebron, as their representatives appealed to a military planning and zoning board the decision banning further building there.

At that site two weeks ago, the settlers attempted to erect a new building but were prevented from doing so.

The army detained most of those who demonstrated Monday, but released most of them during the day.

The military board gave the settlers three more weeks to appeal to the High Court of Justice against the ban on building. During that period, the army will not demolish the foundation of the controversial building, which consists of makeshift cinderblock walls and no roof.

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