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Thousands of Palestinians protest US move on Israeli settlements

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Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Palestinians burned effigies of US President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, as thousands protested against a shift in US policy on Israeli settlements.

Breaking with decades of international consensus, Pompeo on November 18 said the US would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories illegal.

Prime Minister Netanyahu hailed the decision, but Palestinians were outraged and on Tuesday thousands gathered in the occupied territories to protest against the decision.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh led the protests in Ramallah in the central West Bank, telling the crowds they would never accept the US position.

"We are here to say with a loud and clear voice that we want to end the (Israeli) occupation," he said.

"These strangers in settlements have no place on our land."

Ziad Barakat, a school teacher, told AFP in Ramallah "I have not taken part in a protest for a long time, but our situation has become unbearable."

A young woman, head wrapped in a traditional Palestinian keffiyeh (headscarf), was carrying a tyre to block the road.

"They are confiscating our lands and killing our prisoners," she said, identifying herself as Wahida.

In Nablus in the northern West Bank, Palestinians set fire to life-size cutouts of Trump, Pompeo and Netanyahu.

Major protests also took place in Hebron and other cities.

Protesters in multiple locations held aloft signs depicting Sami Abu Diyak, a 36-year-old Palestinian prisoner who died of cancer Tuesday morning in Israeli custody.

He had been jailed since 2002 and was convicted of killing three people, according to the Prison Authority.

Palestinian leaders accused the Jewish state of neglecting his medical needs.

In several locations clashes erupted between youths and the Israeli army, which fired tear gas and rubber bullets, AFP correspondents said.

In total 63 Palestinians were wounded in clashes, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, although none were reported to be in a life-threatening condition.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, in moves never recognised by the international community.

More than 600,000 settlers live in the two territories in communities considered illegal by the international community, alongside more than three million Palestinians.

Since Pompeo's announcement, the European Union, United Nations and others have stressed that they continue to consider settlements illegal.

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