Ma’aleh Adumim must be linked to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
told the cabinet Sunday as he thanked the police and the IDF for their rapid
evacuation of Palestinian activists from E1, an unbuilt area of the West Bank
“We will not allow anyone to harm the contiguity between
Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim,” he said.
Netanyahu issued his strong
statement in support of including Ma’aleh Adumim within Israel’s final borders
in response to a new strategy by Palestinians to assert their claim for
sovereignty over the same area.
On Friday, activists under the auspices
of the Palestinian NGO the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee ascended to
an E1 hilltop, located just outside Jerusalem.
Some 250 Palestinians
erected over 20 large white tents to protest Netanyahu’s November 30 decision to
advance plans to build 3,500 Jewish homes there.
Netanyahu has said that
E1 and Ma’aleh Adumim are critical to preserving Israeli sovereignty over
Palestinians have also claimed that their territorial
contiguity from Ma’aleh Adumim to east Jerusalem is vital to the viability of
their future state.
Palestinian activists called their newly created
outpost “Bab Alshams” (Gate of the Sun).
On Saturday night, Netanyahu
personally intervened to ensure that security forces – some 500 Border Police
officers with help from the IDF – evicted the Palestinians from the
“As soon as I was updated on the Palestinian gathering I ordered
its immediate evacuation, and it was indeed carried out last night in the best
possible manner,” Netanyahu told the cabinet.
In an interview he gave
earlier in the day to Army Radio, however, Netanyahu cautioned that it would
take time before Jewish building actually occurred on E1.
“It is a
gradual process. It won’t happen immediately. It will take time,” Netanyahu
said. “Everything depends on our bureaucracy with construction and
But he promised that there would be building
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, however, continued to
criticize Netanyahu, charging that he was holding up the procedure under which
plans for E1 needed to be redeposited with the Higher Planning Council of Judea
Kashriel, who is a longtime member of Netanyahu’s Likud
party, added that he was hopeful the prime minister would ensure that the plans
were redeposited before the election.
He explained that while the E1 plan had been deposited last month, they were
returned to the city for corrections.
They now need Netanyahu’s approval
before they can be returned to the council.
The Prime Minister’s Office
said there was no change in Netanyahu’s decision to advance E1 plans, and that
he was committed to doing so.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat
said on Sunday that what happened on E1 was intolerable.
“It shows that
the Israeli government is not interested in a two-state solution,” Erekat
“Israel must chose between settlements and peace,” he continued.
“Today once again they have reaffirmed that they have chosen settlements over
Abir Kopty, a spokeswoman for the Popular Struggle Coordination
Committee, said that six people had been injured during the eviction, which took
place from 2 to 4 a.m. on Sunday.
In some cases police punched them in
the face, Kopty said. She provided the press with photographs of the injured
activists, showing bloody noses and bruises.
“Press were also attacked
and prevented from documenting the events,” she said.
Channel 10 reporter
Roy Sharon, on the London and Kirshenbaum program on Sunday evening, showed on
camera how security officials had barred his entry to the site, even as
international media were on the hilltop.
He added that other Israeli
reporters had the same experience.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Aharonovitch told the cabinet that the evacuation of 95 Palestinians, including
women and children, as well as 20 to 30 journalists, went smoothly and without
the use of force.
“The [Israel Police] forces went up to the site without
demonstration-dispersal means and ordered the Palestinians to leave the area.
Some left voluntarily; others required our assistance to be evacuated,” he
“The evacuation was carried out without injuries,” he
“All were put on vehicles and evacuated to Kalandia, where
they were handed over to the Palestinian Authority. There is now a force
guarding the site, including the tents. As soon as we receive an additional
order from the Supreme Court – because the issue is currently under discussion –
we will continue, of course, to evacuate the tents, should such an order be
Initially, upon construction of the tents on Friday, the Civil
Administration of Judea and Samaria issued demolition orders.
Tawfiq Jabareen asked the High Court of Justice for a restraining order on
behalf of the activists, claiming that the land on which the tents had been
erected was private Palestinian property, belonging in part to the east
Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur.
Judge Neal Hendel issued a six-day
restraining order against demolishing the tents unless there was an emergency
On Saturday evening, on orders from Netanyahu, the IDF
declared the area a closed military zone.
Close to midnight, the state
also informed the court that it planned to evict the Palestinian activists,
noting that the injunction’s wording allowed them to do so.
the court with a secret opinion in a sealed envelope, which it said showed an
urgent security need to evacuate the activists as well as the tents. It urged
that this needed to be done to prevent serious harm to public order.
also argued that many of the tents were erected on state land, but it did not
demolish them so as to allow the court to investigate the matter.
Ma’aleh Adumim Municipality plans to appeal to the High Court of Justice on
Monday to take down the tents. The state is also expected to ask the court to
allow their immediate removal.
Ben Hartman and Yonah Jeremy Bob
contributed to this report.