The day after Palestinians were evicted on Netanyahu’s order from Bab Al-Shams…

Daniel Seidemann sent out a pair of Tweets on Sunday, saying:
Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann – Noteworthy Bibi: Won’t allow any1 to harm contiguity bet Jerusalem & Maale Adumim. i.e. 20 tents, 200 protesters harm Israeli contiguity
Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann – But rightwing spinmeisters claim that 3500 settler units, 12000 permanent settlers won’t effect contiguity of Palestinian State. Orwell.

Amira Hass reported in her Haaretz piece, published today, that “because of the ongoing storm last week, there was no choice but to tell those who had registered for the ‘camp’ what the real plan was, to ascertain how many would actually participate. On Thursday, despite the snow, nearly 300 people came to a meeting in Ramallah. Mohammed Khatib, a member of the popular committees from Bil’in, said that about half of those who came to the meeting were new – people who had never taken part in protest activities before. He’s convinced that if not for the weather, 1,000 people would have showed up. The participants agreed to set up the tent camp on a plot that aerial photographs showed was private land whose owners had agreed to the protest. Afterward it emerged that in 2006, Israel had declared part of the land ‘state land’.” This is reported here.

She also noted that “This is not the first time that the popular committees have held a protest that went beyond village borders and the route of the security fence. For example, two months ago they organized the blocking of roads and of the entrances to settlements as part of Palestinian Youth Week, which, though successfully executed, was almost immediately erased from memory by the assassination of Ahmed Jabari in Gaza and the ensuing Operation Pillar of Defense. A month before that, they organized a demonstration against the purchase of settlement products in the Rami Levy supermarket east of Ramallah. But here the committees come up against another contradiction: One-off protests interest the media and public for a few hours, and then are forgotten. Only continuous activity can develop the tools for a mass resistance movement. For now, however, the Palestinian public, as frustrated and outraged as it may be, isn’t drawn to continuous activity and in any case doubts its ability to struggle and the ultimate effectiveness of mass resistance”.

Time Magazine’s Karl Vick wrote that “In fact, it was the General Assembly’s Nov. 29 vote making Palestine a nonmember state that stirred Netanyahu to announce what Daniel Seidemann, who heads an Israeli NGO dealing with conflict resolution in Jerusalem, called the “doomsday settlement” — apparently to demonstrate that Israel retains the power to render the notion of statehood moot by choking the West Bank with Jewish homes at its narrowest point” — E-1 [which the Prime Minister's Office refers to only as "the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem...] This Time Magazine report is published here.

Vick interviewed Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, who was in Bab Al-Shams when Israeli police + soldiers evicted the Palestinian activists: “ ‘If we want peace, we have to resist — nonviolently, but resist — and counter Israeli facts on the ground with Palestinian facts on the ground’, Mustafa Bargouthi, the Palestinian activist who helped organize the camp, tells TIME, a few hours after being arrested and deposited at the edge of Ramallah, the West Bank city. ‘They’re allowing Israeli settlers to stay on Palestinian land, while at the same time within 48 hours they attack and remove us’.”

Vick also spoke to Peace Now’s settlement watch director, Hagit Ofran:
“Israeli soldiers barred the international news media from witnessing the police sweep. Photographers who were already inside the camp recorded the action, which unfolded without significant injury to either side. The news blockade — a literal thing, as Israeli forces manned roadblocks on roads approaching the site — served to confirm that the Palestinian activists had mounted a potent demonstration. ‘It’s in my view a very successful protest that is exposing the Israeli policy in many ways’, says Hagit Ofran, who monitors settlements for the Israeli advocacy group Peace Now. ‘First of all, it puts E-1 back on the political agenda. Maybe it’s because we’re on the eve of elections, but the Prime Minister himself was responding to this provocation’.”

And, in a lovely piece, international law expert and academic, Tel Aviv University Professor Aeyal Gross wrote in Haaretz here that:
“One is likely to miss the far wider context against which the Bab al-Shams outpost must be understood, if they focus only on the question of whether there was indeed an ‘urgent security need’ on Saturday night (‘security’ in this case only pertaining to the Israeli perspective), or if they concentrate on addressing whether the land is state or private, while ignoring the question of planning discrimination. The bigger picture reveals that the real illegality is of the land policies of the occupying regime, and not that of the founders of the outpost. In fact, when the organizers of the outpost wrote, ‘We, the sons and daughters of Palestine, announce the establishment of the village of Bab al-Shams (gate of the sun). We the people, without permission from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this land is our land, and it is our right to inhabit it’, they recaptured their right to the land, in an action that was more faithful to the substantive rule of law and to international law than Israel’s actions with the land”.

Professor Gross discussed the Israeli notion of “State land”:  “it should be remembered that land in the occupied territories that is declared as ‘state land’ is often land that was worked and used privately by Palestinians – and was declared to be state land in a variety of problematic legal ways.  Furthermore, state lands in the occupied territories are meant to serve the population of these territories, and the occupying country holds them in trust: It is forbidden for it to settle its own citizens there. In practice, Israel utilizes most of the land in favor of the settlers. According to reports from the non-profit organization Bimkom and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel ignores the planning needs of the Palestinian population, while the Civil Administration’s policies makes it extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive planning permission, and the plans it outlines do not meet the needs of the Palestinian population. For this reason, the Israel Defense Forces’ claim that the Palestinian outpost is illegal and that it constitutes the invasion of state land falls apart when contrasted with the far more wide-ranging illegality of the way in which the Palestinian population is prevented from the possibility of using land designated for them, as a result of it being declared state land, and because of the discriminatory planning policies that dispossessed the Palestinians for the benefit of settlements which are illegal according to international law. Israel is the one that encroached on Palestinian land, not the opposite”.

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