Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday night ordered the IDF to evacuate
some 250 Palestinian activists from an “outpost” they erected the day before in
E1, an undeveloped area in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
The state appealed to the High Court of Justice, asking the
court to rescind a temporary injunction it issued on Friday against their
evacuation, saying that failure to do so will lead to riots in the area.
In the interim, Netanyahu ordered access roads to the area
closed. The IDF has since declared it a closed military zone.
Police and the IDF are prepared to move quickly against the Palestinians, once
any legal obstacles are removed.
The Palestinians “could be evacuated in
several hours with no problem if the decision is made to do so,” National Police
spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Palestinians headed to E1 on Friday and
set up more than 20 tents to protest Israel’s decision last month to advance
plans to build 3,500 homes there.
The Palestinian Authority has said that
E1 land is needed so the future Palestinian state will be viable and have
territorial continuity. It warned that Israeli construction there imperils the
In an effort to prevent Israeli building in E1, the
Palestinian nongovernmental organization the Popular Struggle Coordination
Committee organized a group of Palestinians – as well as Israeli and other
foreign activists – to head to the area to build a village, which they have
called Bab Alshams (“Gate of the Sun”).
They built it on a section of E1
land which they say belongs to the neighboring “village” of a-Tur, Jerusalem’s
a-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.
“Bab Alshams is the gate to
our freedom and steadfastness.
Bab Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem,” the
committee told the press. “Bab Alshams is the gate to our to our
“For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the
international community remained silent in response to these
The time has come now to change the rules of the game, for us
to establish facts on the ground – our own land,” the NGO
Palestinians over the weekend hailed the establishment of a new
“village” as a turning point in the conflict with Israel and a step that would
pave the way for Palestinian independence.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb
Erekat said Bab Alshams was built to salvage the two-state solution at a time
when Israel was trying to “destroy” it.
“Israel must choose between settlements and
peace,” Erekat said. “The two can’t go together.”
PLO official Hanan
Ashrawi said, “This initiative is a highly creative and legitimate nonviolent
tool to protect our land from Israeli colonial plans. We have the right to live
anywhere in our state, and we call upon the international community to support
such initiatives, as well as to protect those who are being threatened by
Israeli occupation forces for exercising their right to peaceful resistance
against the illegal Israeli occupation.”
Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s
spokesman, said, “This is illegal activity on public land, and it will end.
“This is a meaningless gimmick. If the Palestinians really wanted to change
things they would have negotiated with Israel. This is a meaningless
On Saturday, Fatah called on its supporters to head to the area
to prevent soldiers and police from evicting the activists. Several senior
Palestinian officials who tried to join the activists said soldiers and
policemen had turned them back.
One of them, PA Labor Minister Ahmed
Majdalani, complained that the IDF confiscated his Israeli-issued VIP
Erekat, Ashrawi and PA Social Welfare Minister Majida al-Masri were
also prevented from entering Bab Alshams. Still scores of Palestinians joined
the activists on Saturday after avoiding checkpoints by leaving the road and
hiking up the hill.
According to Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
spokeswoman Abir Kopty, famed Lebanese writer Elias Khoury, author of the epic
novel Bab Alshams (Gate of the Sun) after which the village is named, phoned the
residents earlier today to express his support.
“You have revived Bab
Alshams,” he said. “I wish I were there with you.”
Kopty added that many
Israeli security personnel were already stationed nearby.
Both she and
the group’s attorney, Tawfiq Jabareen, said that the land was private
According to the Civil Administration for Judea and
Samaria, the land belongs to the state. It noted that the tents were pitched
without permits and as such it issued eviction notices there on
Jabareen said that in his petition to the High Court for an
injunction, which he was granted, he argued that the property had been
misclassified as state land.
He added that he had heard from the media
that the state was now appealing that injunction.
On Saturday night, MKs
Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad, who are running for reelection with the Strong
Israel party, said that unless the outpost was taken down over night, they
planned to head to the area on Sunday to hold an election meeting. They called
on Netanyahu to stop talking, and to start building in Judea and
Ben Hartman and Herb Keinon contributed to this report. •