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Jewish activists criticise Israeli occupation

Jewish activists have demonstrated in the Swiss capital, Bern, saying Israel should end its occupation of Palestinian territories and improve human rights.

Jochi Weil-Goldstein, a Zurich doctor, told the media on Monday that he had a list of signatures of Jews in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Israel calling for better living conditions and security for both Jews and Palestinians.

The group, Worldwide Appeal by Concerned Jewish Men and Women, said it was motivated "out of a sense of shared responsibility and in the spirit of Jewish tradition". The group wants as many as possible of the world's 13 million Jews to sign the eight-language petition.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, Israel's embassy to Switzerland said it believed in a "just and durable peace" as the only solution to the conflict between the two sides.

"We also wish to remind that most of these vicious attacks took place after Israel handed over the entire Gaza Strip to the Palestinians," the embassy wrote. "In this context we draw attention to the Hamas covenant that calls for the complete annihilation of the State of Israel."

On Monday, an Israeli group called Peace Now said the Jewish state had plans for 73,000 new housing units in the occupied West Bank.

A peace plan backed by the United States calls for a halt to settlement activity but former President George W. Bush did little to challenge Israel on the issue during his two-term presidency.

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