The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday decided to create a new village council, called Bab al-Shams (‘Gate of Sun”) – a reference to the tent outpost set up by Palestinian activists on an undeveloped area in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, known as E1.
Meanwhile, the High Court of Justice issued a ruling that allows Israeli security forces to take down the 25 tents that Palestinians erected there on Friday.
Late Wednesday night, Israeli security forces bulldozed the tents.
The new village council would be part of the Jerusalem district of the PA and would have a mayor and council members, even though Ma’aleh Adumim is located outside of Jerusalem’s municipal borders, as defined by Israeli law.
Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh said that several European towns have expressed a desire to sign twin agreements with the newly created Bab al-Shams village.
He refused to name the EU towns. He said, however, that the signing of the twin agreements would pave the way for international recognition of the village as a fact on the ground.
A source in the PA Local Government Ministry said the ministry would soon appoint a mayor and a village council for Bab al-Shams.
The PA announced its decision as the High Court rescinded the temporary injunction against demolishing the tents that it issued on Friday after attorney Tawfiq Jabareen petitioned the court on behalf of the activists.
He argued that the land was private Palestinian property that belonged to the a-Tur neigborhood in east Jerusalem.
The court on Wednesday said it would hear a petition on behalf of such a claim, even though the State Attorney’s Office has said that E1 is Israeli state land.
The court, in its decision, said, “On one hand, one cannot ignore the petitioners’ arguments that they have a right to use the property,” it said.
“These legal issues require clarification and discussion,” the court said. But it noted that the temporary nature of the tents allowed the court to separate their fate from that of the legal questions before the court.
Should a ruling on the matter favor the Palestinians, the tents could be rebuilt without significant cost, the court said.
It explained that it based its decision on the need to maintain public order, and as such it accepted the state’s argument that it would be harmful to leave the tents where they were because they served as a magnet that would continue to draw protesters.
Secret information provided to the court attested to the fact that the tents created a security risk, the justices said.
They gave the state a week to respond, and then Palestinians a week to respond to that document.
Jabareen disagreed with the court’s decision, but said its response was to be expected, because it was pressured by the security argument.
He said, however, that he was encouraged by the way the court treated the land claim.
The nongovernmental Palestinian group the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee organized the creation of Bab al-Shams, but it immediately received PA backing.
On Friday, under the NGO’s auspices, some 250 Palestinian activists went onto the E1 hilltop.
Early on Sunday morning, Israel security forces evacuated some 100 Palestinians who were in the tents.
On Tuesday, they barred activists from returning.
The activists targeted E1 to protest Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s November 30 decision to advance plans to build 3,500 Jewish homes on the site.
Separate from the issue of who owns the land, Palestinians believe E1 should be part of their future state and are working to stop Jewish building there.