By Barak Ravid and Chaim Levinson, Haaretz – 12 Jan 2013
Israel declares Palestinian outpost east of Jerusalem a closed military zone, but unclear whether the state can immediately demolish them, as Netanyahu has ordered.
Palestinian activists who set up an outpost Friday in area E-1 east of Jerusalem said Saturday night that the Israel Defense Forces had surrounded the area and were preventing supporters from entering. Activists said they would oppose any attempt to forcibly remove them.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday ordered Israel’s security forces to evacuate the outpost, where activists set up a camp site on November 30 following his highly controversial announcement regarding construction plans for area E-1, located between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.
Haaretz has determined that the tents were indeed put up on private Palestinian land. As such, it is unclear whether the state can immediately demolish them, as Netanyahu has ordered.
The state’s position, issued close to midnight on Saturday and signed by Osnat Mandel, head of the Justice Ministry’s High Court division, stated that “there is an urgent security need to evacuate the area of the people and tents.”
The state included a confidential intelligence assessment about the urgent security need. The state also specified that it before evacuating the tents it will complete an inspection of the encampment and dismantle them accordingly. The state is also demanding immediate evacuation of the people and intends to act immediately.
Some 200 Palestinians and foreign peace activists had set up 21 tents at the site Friday in protest of the construction plans.
Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian activist who is leading the protest at the site, stated that “the people who need to leave are the settlers who have taken over the land, because the Palestinians have the right to stay on their land.”
Netanyahu ordered their evacuation despite a temporary injunction ordered by Israel’s High Court of Justice Saturday preventing the state from evicting the Palestinians from the outpost.
The Prime Minister’s Bureau said in a statement released Saturday that the state would ask the High Court to cancel the injunction halting the eviction.
According to the statement, Netanyahu has ordered that the site be declared a closed military zone and that all access roads leading to the outpost be closed by security forces until the High Court decides on the matter, in order to prevent additional people from gathering there.
Some supporters continued to arrive via mountain trails, however, though police prevented Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and PLO executive committee memberHanan Ashrawi from joining the protesters.
Police arrived at the site Saturday morning and ordered the protesters to leave, telling them they would be forcibly removed if they did not go voluntarily. According to police, the court injunction prohibits removal of the tents but not the people. Nevertheless, the IDF’s legal advisers recommended they wait for the High Court ruling before taking action. Preparations to carry out the order are being made in the meantime.
Civil Administration personnel also came to the site with an eviction order, claiming that the area is located on state land
The High Court petition states that the tents were “set up on private land as part of a tourist attraction focusing on Bedouin heritage and life in the area and the experience of Bedouin life in the desert.”
It states that the tourist attraction, to be active during winter and spring only, will feature activities such as baking pita, grinding flour on millstones, a henna ceremony and stories of Bedouin life.
The state says the petitioners misled the High Court with regard to the tourism project, and that the presence of the tents was intended as a political provocation.
In preparing the plans for area E-1, the state in 2005 examined the records for the state lands on which the settlement is to be built. The plan shows an area of 1,500 dunams (375 acres) out of the total 12,000 dunams (3,000 acres) allocated for construction that Civil Administration figures indicate is privately owned by Palestinians, though the land was not registered officially.
This means that although the Civil Administration is seeking immediate eviction based on what it terms a case of “recent squatting,” an order to stop work must be issued if the land is indeed privately owned. That order can be appealed within seven days, and if the appeal is rejected, it becomes a demolition order.
Despite a temporary injunction issued by the Israeli Supreme Court, Palestinian protesters were removed by Israeli occupation forces by 13 January 2013. See
Netanyahu on evacuating Palestinian protest tents: Nobody will block E-1 corridor
Area-E1 Palestinian tent camp – 12 January 2013 Maaleh Adumim in the background
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz – 13 Jan 2013
Israeli security forces on Sunday cleared about one hundred Palestinian activists from the encampment they had set up between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumin two days earlier
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he had ordered the immediate evacuation of a Palestinian protest encampment in the the E-1 corridor east of Jerusalem, vowing that Israel would not let anyone stop it from connecting the capital to Ma’aleh Adumim.
Israeli security forces cleared about 100 Palestinian activists early on Sunday from the tent city that had pitched as a protest against Israeli plans to expand settlement construction there.
Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Palestinian outpost, built in the geographically sensitive area known as E-1, could remain for six days while the issue of the removal of the tents was being discussed.Netanyahu ordered the evacuation immediately, however, despite the court’s ruling.
A police spokesman explained that the court had allowed for the removal of the protesters even if the tents, for now, will stay.
Netanyahu said he had ordered the area sealed off to prevent clashes.
“I immediately called for the area to be closed off so there would not be large gatherings there that could cause friction and breach the public order,” he said.
“We will not let anyone harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim,” Netanyahu said.
Hundreds of Israeli police and border guards entered the compound and told a crowd of about 100 to leave the 20 large, steel-framed tents erected on Friday.
Those protesters who refused to leave were carried down the hill by Israeli officers and detained, but were not jailed.
Israeli police vans took them to the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government.
“Everyone was evacuated carefully and swiftly, without any injuries to officers or protesters,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Palestinian activists criticized the raid and promised more protest camps in areas designated by Israel for settlements.
“The eviction and the exercise of force is another indication that Israel is defying the international consensus on the need to vacate occupied Palestinian land,” Palestinian government spokesman Nour Odeh said.
For years, Israel froze building in E-1, which currently houses only a police headquarters, after coming under pressure from former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Netanyahu said Israel would build at E-1 after the planning process was completed.
“It is a gradual process, it will take time. It will not happen immediately, you understand our bureaucratic process… We will complete the planning and there will be building there,” he told Army Radio.
Israel announced plans to expand settlements, mainly in West Bank areas around Jerusalem, after the Palestinians won de-facto recognition of statehood at the UN General Assembly in November.
International powers view all Jewish settlement building in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War as detrimental to securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
E-1 covers 4.6 square miles (12 square km) and is seen as particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow “waist” of the West Bank, but backs onto East Jerusalem.
Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, dominated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, and the Gaza Strip, run by the rival Islamist group Hamas, with East Jerusalem as the capital.
About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 over the issue of Israel’s continued settlement building.