Residents have been demonstrating for a year and a half against the wall, which has taken about half of the village's land.

Jibril Rajoub, security adviser to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the villagers embodied the Palestinian struggle for statehood.

"This is live proof of the Palestinian determination to have our own independent state on Palestinian land," he told Aljazeera.net on Wednesday.

The intention of the gathering was to expand the popular, non-violent resistance in Bil'in.

Mohammad Khatib of the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements said: "This is the beginning of a new phase in the struggle.

"We want to widen Palestine support of our popular resistance, so that it will start to come from outside the village."

Residents of Bil'in, a few kilometres west of Ram Allah, have staged weekly demonstrations against the wall, together with Israeli and international activists.

A Jewish settlement, Mattityahu East, has already been built on some of the land taken for the barrier.

In January, the Israeli supreme court ordered a freeze on further building or settlement in the area, after an appeal argued that construction had been carried out with no permits.