Israeli expansion in this area is particularly contentious due to its proximity to Jerusalem. Organizers said those attending the demonstration were sending a message to the Israeli government but that they would not stay there for any length of time. "We didn't come here to build, but to protest," Arieh Eldad, an MP from the right-wing National Union party, said. The
The demonstration comes three days before an Israeli and Palestinian steering committee is due to convene to oversee peace negotiations that were relaunched in the
More than 100 settlements already cover the occupied
Baruch Marzel, an activist at the demonstration, told Al Jazeera's David Chater that the demonstrators would not observe any pledge by Olmert to dismantle settlements in the West Bank.
"Olmert and Abu Mazen [Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas] aren't relevant. They can't do anything, not for good or bad," he said.
"Today [Abbas] is collaborating, tomorrow he'll help Hamas and become an enemy. Olmert is so weak that he isn't able to move one outpost.
"After 35 years of building settlements, I can tell you that here - where we have built a very large Jewish neighbourhood - it will prevent a Palestinian state."
Arieh Itzhaki, one of the event's organisers, said that the E1 corridor, which runs from
"If E1 falls into Palestinian hands it will be dangerous for the future of the state of
The Palestinians have said that if
If such contiguity along the corridor were to be established by
Yariv Oppenheimer, the head of Peace Now, Israel's anti-settlement group, said: "The settlers wish to isolate Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and prevent Palestinians living in the north of the territory from travelling south in order to bury the vision of two states for two peoples."