Road near Jerusalem puts wall between Israelis, Palestinians

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Israeli forces rounded up 18 Palestinians in overnight raids carried out across the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners Association, an NGO, said Thursday.

"The western side serves Palestinians who can not enter Jerusalem, while the eastern side is reserved for Israeli settlers", Haaretz reported.

Palestinian officials and activists on the other hand have condemned the road as an example of Israeli apartheid and racism against Palestinians.

Palestinians and Israelis often share roads in the West Bank, although some are reserved exclusively for Israelis.

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The road is a key infrastructural part of implementing Israel's "Greater Jerusalem" or "E1" plan, which seeks the de facto annexation of the three settlement blocs adjacent to Jerusalem city - Gush Etzion to the South, Ma'ale Adumim/E-1 to the east and Givat Ze'ev to the north.

Mohammed Abu Zaid, administrative director of the local council for Al-Zaim, a Palestinian village on the other side of the wall, fears that the journey from his village to the city will be lengthened by some eight kilometres (five miles) if the project is completed.

Israeli settlement activity, deemed illegal by most world powers and under the global law, is considered one of the thorniest issues that hindered the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

The road is divided by a high wall, better called Apartheid wall, in which the western side serves Palestinians and the eastern one serves illegal Israeli settlers.

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Israel says the barrier is necessary for security, but for Palestinians it has become a symbol of the occupation.

Palestinian Aisha Al-Rabi, a mother of eight, died after Jewish settlers stoned her vehicle in the West Bank. "This new road is absolutely unacceptable and embodies barefaced discrimination against the Palestinian people".

Infrastructure is a problem in the West Bank, where Palestinians say they have been unable to build adequate infrastructure due to Israeli restrictions.

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