Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank in the Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea to reestablish the village of Ein Hijleh on Friday evening.
The Palestinians were gathered under the campaign that they called "Melh Al-Ard" (Salt of the Earth) that was launched at the site "in protest of Israeli policies aimed at Judaizing and annexing the Jordan Valley," and was held in protest of the current round of negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israellis, that according to Palestinian activist Irene Nasser, further endangers the annexation of the area to Israel.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Friday from the scene of the campaign, Nasser said some 500 people had gathered at the site and had no intention to leave.
As darkness fell on Friday, Nasser said that she could observe around a dozen Border Police jeep vehicles surrounding the perimeter of the site. She said that the activists did not have tents but that they did bring materials with them to make the existing structures at the site comfortable.
Under the current round of US brokered talks, Israel has stressed its security concerns with regard to ceding control of the Jordan Valley under a future negotiated settlement.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to unveil in the coming weeks a framework agreement for continuation of the peace talks.
Martin Indyk, the State Department’s lead envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told Jewish leaders on Thursday in Washington
that Kerry's framework will include special security arrangements in the Jordan Valley including a new security zone with new fences, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Nasser told the Post
on Friday that the campaigners belonged to a collection of various Palestinian groups and communities.
The village that the activists wish to reestablish is located on land that belongs to the Orthodox Church, and its name Ein Hijleh is the original Canaanite name of the village that was once present there, Nasser said.
"We refuse Kerry’s Plan that will establish a disfigured Palestinian state and recognizes the Israeli entity as a Jewish State," read a campaign press statement.
An IDF spokesperson said on Friday evening that the IDF was aware of the Ein Hijleh gathering and that it recognized it as a "quiet gathering."
The Border Police spokesperson was unavailable for comment on Friday evening.
Earlier in the day, James W. Rawley, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the West Bank, expressed deep concern following Israel's demolition of 36 Palestinian owned structures in the Jordan Valley community of Ein al-Hilwe.
“I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in Area C, particularly along the Jordan Valley where the number of structures demolished more than doubled in the last year,” said Rawley.
“This activity not only deprives Palestinians of access to shelter and basic services, it also runs counter to international law,” he added.
In March of last year Israel Police evacuated
40 Palestinian activists from an empty hilltop in the area known as E1, who like the Ein Hijleh activists sought to establish a Palestinian presence in the area located near the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement in the West Bank.