Israeli ‘visit tantamount to a raid’

The Palestinian Authority yesterday reacted angrily to plans by Jewish settlers to enter Solomon’s Pools, an ancient archeological site near Bethlehem that is supposed to be under full Palestinian control.

Settler leaders say they have secured army permission for the visit, although a military spokeswoman told The Scotsman yesterday evening that no decision on the matter had been taken.

The pools are in the area designated as being under full Palestinian security and civilian control, according to the 1993 Oslo self-rule agreements.

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Palestinian officials say the settler interest in the area is motivated by expansionist ideology, not tourism.

“Whatever the pretext, this is part of the settlement regime that keeps encroaching on Palestinian life,” said Nour Odeh, spokeswoman for the authority. She said that since the settlers would be accompanied by troops the visit, planned for tomorrow, “is tantamount to a raid”.

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Ms Odeh said the Palestinian fear is that the visit would be a prelude to heightened settler activity.