Israel is not happy at all with the UN Human Rights Council's report on West Bank settlements

Dear Readers, a bout of Pneumonia made it  impossible to blog for several weeks.  Now, in a convalescence period, we are re-starting. With apologies, this post is currently under construction, and will be completed within the next 24 hours…

And we will analyze the UNHRC report itself in a separate post…

Update: Israeli international law expert Ruth Gavison wrote in Haaretz on 8 February that Israel “shouldn’t ignore the recent report on West Bank settlements which was written [on behalf of the UN Human Rights Commission], since it reflects the maturation of a prolonged process, typical of international law.  The report reflects the views of the international community that sees Israel not only as an on-going occupier in the West Bank, but one that conducts itself as proprietary owners, perceiving their rights as overruling the Palestinians’ quest for self-determination on part of their homeland.  It should be noted that in contrast to the Human Rights Council’s report, which views the 1967 borders (the Green Line) as the only criterion for the legitimacy of Jewish settlement projects, the Israeli government has before it the report prepared by retired Justice Edmond Levy which states otherwise. This report, basing itself on the same international law, states that the entire West Bank is a legitimate target for Jewish settlement, subject to proprietary rights of Palestinian residents. The state and its courts have done their utmost to avoid taking an unambiguous stand regarding the legality of Jewish settlement beyond the Green Line in the context of international law. The courts have dealt mainly with property rights of individual Palestinians, such as in the case of Elon More, where expropriation of private land by settlers was forbidden. However, the courts have never addressed the significance and ramifications of the injunction against an occupying state transferring its population into conquered territories. The international community was always critical of the settlement enterprise, but the terminology used was more vague, such as ‘obstacles to achieving peace’, rather than explicitly about its illegality, as is now the case”…

Gavison continued: “If Israel continues to argue that it is permissible for Jews to settle anywhere in Mandatory (pre-1948) Palestine (other than on private land), which is what the Levy report recommends, rather than claim that this was how it interpreted international law until the issue was clarified, the country and its leaders will face mounting criticism and even sanctions.  After a deliberate suppression of the topic during the election campaign, the new government will have to decide: It must declare either that it supports a two-state solution or that it continues to see the West Bank as part of the Jewish homeland. It must be aware of the fact that the second choice, based on the Levy report, will be an explicit rejection of the commitment to the concept of international law, as perceived by the entire world. So, in fact, the government has no choice. It’s time that it accepted the fact that, even according to its own courts, these are occupied (or held) territories. As such, they are not part of the state and no ‘annexation’ can alter this fact. According to international law, a country cannot act as the owner of such lands and settle them with its citizens. Such conduct is no longer merely forbidden, but now constitutes a crime” …

It is the Treaty of Rome, which is the foundation for the International Criminal Court, that makes it a crime, Gavison says:  “The Rome Treaty of 1998 that established the International Criminal Court laid the foundation for the UN’s new report. The treaty explicitly defined the transfer of population to occupied territories by a victorious combatant as a war crime. This treaty had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind when choosing the wording of this definition. Thus, the declared and consistent policy of transferring Israeli citizens into the West Bank, in the context of a territorial dispute, is now perceived not only as undesirable, but as patently illegal in the eyes of the entire international community, including the United States. This puts Israel on a collision course with international opinion, and it’s only bound to get worse. Changing the debate over the settlement enterprise into a legal one is indeed bad for Israel. There is no distinction between legal and illegal settlements, as judged by Israel, or between Jerusalem, settlement blocs or more isolated settlements. The new discourse entirely ignores local political and security considerations and does not encourage negotiations and mutual concessions”.  This is published here.

Gavison then argues that “it is of vital urgency that Israel makes a distinction between settlements that are already established, and thus probably not subject to the treaty’s clauses, and settlements not yet built. Negotiations should be based on this distinction. Not every inch of conquered territory must be repatriated. A conquest that follows a defensive war is terminated when an agreement is reached over security concerns that may have underlain the original conflict. The Palestinians are currently not addressing some of Israel’s legitimate concerns. There is also some weight given to facts that were established on occupied territory, even if they turn out to have been unlawful, and to the length of time that has elapsed, not all of which was the fault of Israel. Israel is right in arguing that a total dismissal of the entire settlement project and a call for full withdrawal is unrealistic, and not conducive towards finding a solution”.

She then recommends that “Israel should submit a proposal for solving the conflict in which it relinquishes its claims to the entire area, and recognize the Palestinians’ rights for self-determination in part of their homeland, subject to adequate security arrangements”…

UPDATE: On 2 February

Nachman Shai, reelected to Knesset [for Labor Party, after Kadima imploded], denounces UN HRC report on settlements – …

#PT Nachman Shai: “Israel quite rightly will not engage in a process that is effectively a rubber stamp for the Sudans of this world” …

#PT “we will not engage in disc abt report calling, outrageously, for sanctions against our country, by a body whose VP is rep from Sudan”


UPDATE: On 1 February
MT @emilylhauser – #Israel can ignore the facts…but abuses & perfidies won’t magically become something else: …

MT @emilylhauser only way to be comfortable w/ these facts is to say the Jewish past is more binding than intl law & our lives more special

Emily Hauser: “there’s simply no way to explain away the entire corpus of Israeli actions in the occupied territories” …

Emily Hauser: “The Israeli government and the settler movement know exactly what they’re doing”. …


On 29 January:
louis charbonneau @lou_reuters —#Israel boycotts U.N. rights scrutiny session 


Marian Houk @Marianhouk — “Israel cut ties with the UNHRC in March after the HR Council approved a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli settlement activity”

#PT from Jerusalem Post article – …


Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Human Rights Council “regretted” Israel’s decision not to participate in the review of its compliance with HR obligations “at sched time”


Marian Houk @Marianhouk — The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva called on Israel “to resume its cooperation” w/ Universal [for every member] Periodic Review mechanism [by November 2013]


Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch in Geneva: Israel decision was due to 1) Israel’s 2012 decision to sever all ties w/ the UNHRC [b/c ofperm agenda item on Israel]

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 2) Israel review wld be under “newly-elected UNHRC member Venezuela, the Iranian-allied dictatorship of Hugo Chavez”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk –UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 3rd reason for Israel’s non-participation = “in reality, the UPR is, for the most part, a mutual praise society”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Watch “is concerned by a deepening culture of mutual praise, where members of large voting blocs grant each other immunity” [via email].

Marian Houk @Marianhouk – UN Watch statement cont’d: “The danger of the mutual praise is that the UPR review is then used as a seal of legitimacy”.

Israel's Supreme Court does not extend injunction protecting the tents of Bab Al-Shams

Now Israel’s Supreme Court has spoken: after State application, the Court has not extended its six-day injunction barring “evacuation or destruction” of the tents erected by Palestinians at Bab Al-Shams.

At 11:00 pm, Abir Kopty Tweeted this:

Abir Kopty @AbirKopty  — Military bulldozer approaching #BabAlshams, they want to remove it asap because it frightened them so much!

Half an hour later, this was Tweeted:

BabAlshams @Bab_Alshams — 4 #Israeli Bulldozers Seen Destroying #BabAlshams According To Journalists

The Supreme Court went further than merely letting the injunction expire: the Court said that Bab Al-Shams tents could/should be taken down to avoid a “security crisis”.

Daniel Seidemann sent this tweet:
@DanielSeidemann — [Israel’s] National Security Adviser Amidror to Supreme Court: Involvement of PA officials in E-1 protest indicates move is strife-generating provocation.

The organization founded by Daniel Seidemann, Terrestrial Jerusalem, has published a summary report on the Bab Al-Shams experiment, here, saying:

“Last week, a group of Palestinians launched a well-planned, well thought-out, non-violent protest in the area known to the world as E-1, with the establishment of a tent encampment at a site dubbed Bab Ash-Shams. As was widely reported in the Israeli and international media, the Israeli government responded rapidly and vigorously, evicting the protesters and declaring the area a closed military zone…
It appears that Netanyahu government made two claims as a basis for taking action against this Palestinian protest. First, it claimed that while the injunction prevents the dismantling of the tents, it didn’t apply to the evacuation of the protesters. Second, the Netanyahu government asserted that there was an acute security threat, and a threat to public safety. It has been hinted that one way the State Attorney justified the latter assertion was by citing the threat made by Israeli right-wing extremists to challenge the Palestinians. It has also been reported that the State gave the court a sealed secret ‘opinion’ to back up its security argument…
The Message of the E-1/Bab ash-Shams Eviction
The Netanyahu government’s eviction of protesters from the Bab Ash-Shams protest site was technically legal under Israel law (with the term ‘legal’ defined by Israel law, rather than any other objective standard). It was also, by all substantive and objective measures, outrageous, putting some ugly truths on stark display for the entire world to see:
(a) ‘Security’ is a political issue:    The current Israeli government’s definition of a ‘security threat’ is not confined solely or even most prominently to threats to Israeli lives or Israeli borders; it extends to any Palestinian action, however benign and non-violent, that threatens the current government’s ideological vision for the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This was evident in the Netanyahu government’s response to the Palestinian non-violent, pro-two-state solution approach to the UN, and it is equally evident in this government’s self-righteous response to the Palestinian protest in E-1.
(b) Basic rights don’t exist under occupation: Palestinians living under occupation do not enjoy the rights of free speech and or non-violent protest/demonstration. This is in contrast to the rights enjoyed by Israeli protesters in Tel Aviv, or Israeli extremists setting up illegal outposts on hilltops across the West Bank. For those constantly asking ‘where is the Palestinian Gandhi?’ the Israeli response at E-1, along with its harsh response to unarmed Palestinian protests in Bil’in, Nilin, Nabi Saleh, etc, provide a clear answer.
c) Not all ‘outposts’ are equal, not all Court orders equally compelling: The Israeli government’s rapid action to evict Palestinian protesters from Bab ash-Shams stands in stark contrast to its unwillingness to remove illegal outposts erected by Israeli settlers. Even when there are clear orders from Israel courts to evacuate these Israeli outposts, successive Israeli governments have engaged in outrageous foot-dragging tactics – tactics that appear to be geared to allowing settlers to dig in at the sites. The Netanyahu government has, in this regard, gone even further than previous governments, in adopting an official policy aimed at ‘legalizing’, through any means possible, the illegal outposts. Removals of illegal settler outposts has occurred only after Israeli courts have cornered the Israeli government and deprived them of all other options, and have been offset by compensatory ‘gifts’ to the settlers in the form of new settlement approvals.
(d) Palestinian non-violent protest, and any other Palestinian initiative, will be crushed: Netanyahu’s message to the Palestinians, encapsulated by the response at E-1/Bab Ash-Shams, has been clear and consistent: you have no option but to give in and give up. He has made clear that negotiations offer no political horizon for Palestinians to achieve the goal of their own state, and will be used only to further discredit and humiliate their leaders. Efforts to achieve gains through non-violent diplomatic moves, like going to the UN, will be framed as diplomatic terrorism. Non-violent protest, even protest legal under Israeli law, will be crushed – and framed in terms that make clear to the world that this is just a new form of unarmed terrorism. And violent protest – which Israel appears to be deliberately pushing Palestinians toward – is terrorism that, too, will be crushed, and will be exploited to make the case that the issue is not Israeli actions and policies, but that the Palestinians do not want peace and hunger to kill Jews.
(e) Israel contiguity counts; Palestinian contiguity doesn’t: Following the announcement late last year that the Netanyahu government was expediting approval E-1, settlement supporters and apologists launched a spin offensive, insisting that the construction of E-1 is compatible is contiguous Palestinian state. That spin offensive, targeting both the media and government officials, was intended to counteract analysis – including from Terrestrial Jerusalem – that construction of E-1 will effectively dismember the West Bank and prevent the emergence of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. That spin offensive was dealt an unintentional blow in the context of the E-1/Bab Ash-Shams protest, when Prime Minister Netanyahu explained the government’s harsh reaction to the Palestinian protest by stating: ‘We will not allow anyone to harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim’. With this statement, the world now witnesses the spectacle of Netanyahu and those behind the E-1 spin offensive insisting that 3500 permanent settler units and 12,000 new settlers do not however harm the contiguity of a future Palestinian State, while at the same time arguing, in an indignant tone, that 20 tents and 200 Palestinians unacceptably ‘harm’ contiguity between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim”.

And, Bradley Burston has written in his latest post on his Haaretz blog [“A Special Place in Hell”] that:

“The founding of Bab al-Shams was genius. And no one knew that better than Benjamin Netanyahu. The encampment sent a message that was clear, piercing, and entirely non-violent. The proof: Netanyahu said it had to be destroyed at once.

It needed to be destroyed despite a High Court order that appeared to give the new villagers six days to remain on the site. But in a peculiarly contemporary reinterpretation of the Naqba, the policeannounced that the injunction only
applied to the tents. The people could be taken out. In the dead of night.

So desperate was the need to destroy it quickly, that the head of the Justice Ministry’s High Court division was pressed into service at midnight Saturday, to sign a statement to the court declaring ‘there is an urgent security need to
evacuate the area of the people and tents’.

The government also sent a sealed note to the court, containing further ‘security information’ – classified Secret, as was the reason for its being kept from the public – as to why it was necessary to give the order immediately for 500 police to move in.

But everyone here already knew the secret.

Bab al-Shams needed to be destroyed because it was fighting facts on the ground with facts on the ground.

It needed to be destroyed for the same reason that a hundred similar, patently illegal Israeli West Bank outposts are coddled, honored by visits from cabinet ministers, and rendered permanent with state-supplied electricity, water,
access roads, security protection, and retrofit permits.

Bab al-Shams did not simply touch a nerve. Bab al-Shams had to be destroyed because, where the occupation is concerned, it touched the central nervous system.

On Election Day next week, when I enter the voting booth, I will be taking a small piece of Bab al-Shams with me. My respect and admiration for people who cannot vote in this election, but who each cast an extraordinarily forceful absentee ballot in booths they set up themselves in E-1.

They are fighting the Netanyahu government with the one weapon against which this government has no defense – hope. Hope is this government’s worst enemy, more threatening by far than Iran.

For years and years we’ve been taught to believe that the occupation is irreversible, unassailable, so permanent that there is no occupation, there is just this Israel of ours … We are told what to believe by settlers and their
champions in places like Ra’anana. That there cannot be two states, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians. That we, the Jews, have been here forever and will stay in East Jerusalem in the West Bank forever and ever.

It turns out, though, that other people, on other hilltops, Palestinian people, have something else to teach us. May they succeed”.    This Bradley Burston blogpost is published here.

Bab Al-Shams is still a closed military zone

Identical multiple reports claim activists disguised as bride + “traditional Palestinian wedding party” tried to “retake” #BabAlShams today.  But, it appears that it remains a “Closed Military Zone”….

Photo from the Facebook page of Activists around the world for Palestine here:

an activists dressed as wedding party rebuffed on attempt to "retake" Bab Al-Shams
an activists dressed as wedding party rebuffed on attempt to "retake" Bab Al-Shams

Reuters has the report, which has been picked up + reproduced as is [for example, in Haaretz here, and in the Jerusalem Post here, and also on Ma’an News Agency here]:

“One activist wore a white bridal gown and their cars were decked out in bright ribbons, making the protest look like a traditional Palestinian wedding … Twenty Palestinians were detained for questioning”

UPDATE: On Wednesday 16 January, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association posted an update on those detained trying to get to Bab Al Shams:  17 of the detainees will report to the Military Court in Ofer and Al Moscobiyeh in Jerusalem. Their charges are:  1 – Access to a closed military zone  2 – Attack on the police
The prosecution is demanding shutting them out of Bab Al Shams for 6 months.

The detainees are:
1. Isam Bakir
2. Ahmad Ziadeh
3. Sharaf Rayan
4. Mohammad Ziyadat
5. Nadeem Abu Hilal
6. Adham Rabie
7. Abady Shalhoub
8. Neta Golan
9. Hatem Al Khatib
10. Eid Jalal Al Khatib
11. Ramzi Faroun
12. Ahmad Abu Rahma
13. Ahmad Brahama
14. Burkan Daraghmeh
15. Ahmad Al Hanash
16. Ahmad Hijazi
17. Ahmad Jabayat

UPDATE TWO: All those arrested were released by Wednesday evening. Some 18 demonstrators were barred from Bab Al-Shams for six weeks, while 15 of the demonstrators were given fines of 1000 shekels [$270] each. The Palestinian government later said that it would pay/reimburse those fines….

Jonathan Cook has written [his article is reproduced here] that “Following the Israeli raid, that point was made eloquently by Mohammed Khatib, one of the organisers. ‘In establishing Bab al-Shams, we declare that we have had enough of demanding our rights from the occupier — from now on we shall seize them ourselves’.  That, of course, is also Netanyahu’s great fear.  The scenario his officials are reported to be most concerned about is that this kind of popular mode of struggle becomes infectious.  If Palestinians see popular non-violent resistance, unlike endless diplomacy, helping to awaken the world to their plight, there may be more Bab al-Shamses — and other surprises for Israel — around the corner.  It was precisely such thinking that led Israel’s attorney-general, Yehuda Weinstein, to justify Netanyahu’s violation of the injunction on the grounds that the camp would ‘bring protests and riots with national and international implications’.”

The U.S. State Department has finally been asked about the Bab al-Shams experiment, and Spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated here that the U.S. believes “settlement activities of any kind…complicate efforts to resume direct bilateral talks” and are “not helpful”:

QUESTION: On the same topic, in the last – over the weekend, the Israelis forcibly moved Palestinians who had tried to reclaim an area taken from them for a settlement in the E1 area in Bab al-Shams. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. [Victoria] NULAND: We’ve obviously been aware of recent developments in E1. I will again take this opportunity to urge all sides, both sides, to refrain from unhelpful action, from unhelpful rhetoric, and to think seriously about the consequences of their actions. Every step taken should be designed to reduce tension, to prepare the way for getting back to the negotiating table.

QUESTION: Would that be the kind of nonviolent resistance that the Palestinians ought to pursue in fighting the occupation?

MS. NULAND: I’m not sure what you’re —

QUESTION: Doing – taking action like that, going to areas and pitching tents and staying up there and do temporary housing and staying on land without seeking – without resorting to violence, that would be the kind of action that the Palestinians ought to do in sort of undoing the occupation?

MS. NULAND: We oppose all unilateral action, Said, including settlement activities of any kind. They complicate efforts to resume direct bilateral talks. This includes in the E1 area. It’s just not helpful.

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”.

Attorney Tawfik Jabareen explains what did [and did not] happen in the Supreme Court last midnight

Israeli Attorney Tawfik Jabareen, from Um al-Fahm in northern Israel, represents the Bab Al-Shams project and the 4 Palestinian families who own that precise bit of land [and who live on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, and are therefore permanent residents in Israel, carrying Israeli IDs] — who are the Abu Ghannam, Abu Sbitan, Abu-l-Hawa, and Al-Fayad families.

[Attorney Jabareen told me, in a phone conversation this [Sunday] morning, that land in E-1 is owned by Palestinians from Issawiya, just down the slope from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on  Mount Scopus, and from a-Tur, or the Mount of Olives ridge a bit south of Mount Scopus.  But the Bab Al-Shams tent village was sent up on land owned only by the families from the Mount of  Olives]

On Friday, immediately after the Israeli Army went to court to get an eviction order for the tent village that had just been set up, Attorney Jabareen went to the Israeli Supreme Court to get an injunction prohibiting, for six days, the destruction or eviction of the tents — EXCEPT in case of military or urgent security need [it must have been the Court which added this].

The Israeli Supreme Court injunction issued Friday against eviction of Bab Al-Shams is for six days…that is, until Wednesday.

On Saturday morning, the Police approached the Bab Al-Shams tents and told the Palestinians there that they would soon be evicted, because the Court order protected the tents, but not the people.

Attorney Jabareen told me in a phone interview on Saturday that when he was informed of this Police interpretation, he thought at first it was a joke.

Then, he faxed a letter to Police Commander in E-1/Maale Adumim saying that police interpretation of Supreme Court order is wrong.   “The order is very clear”,  #BabAlShams Atty Jabareen said. “It includes tents + people… and it is forbidden for military commander to evict and/or destroy”.

It’s impossible to understand from the Court order that people are excluded from the injunction’s ban on eviction, Jabareen said — though the wording may not have said “both tents and the people in them should not be evicted or destroyed”.

He was very clear — both in his astonished amazement at the reported Police interpretation and in his rejection of this interpretation.

[The Jerusalem Post later wrote: “But the court’s language spoke of the tents, not the people, and added that security factors could shift the decision, Jabareen said”.  The full JPost report is posted here.  But, the economy of language used in the newspaper report belies the meaning of Jabareen’s words.]

If the police or military commander have a different interpretation of Court injunction, he/they must go to the Court, Jabareen said.   And, if any police/military official acts against Supreme Court injunction, then “on his deed a black flag arises” — that means,  it’s illegal, Jabareen explained, translating directly from the original Hebrew wording.

Throughout the day, the Israeli Army + Police kept people from arriving [at least, by car, on the roads] at the Bab al-Shams area on the grounds that the area had been declared a Closed Military Zone.  Palestinians did manage to escape the roadblocks and reach Bab al-Shams Saturday by crossing through the hills and the back roads, on foot.

At 6 pm, just after the end of the Jewish Shabbat, the Prime Minister’s office announced that Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu “has ordered security forces to evacuate forthwith” Palestinians “who have gathered between Maale Adumim + Jerusalem”…

Israeli Attorney and expert on Jerusalem, Daniel Seidemann, said Sunday night on Twitter that one of the main issues here is: “Do the occupied have the right to protest, and is it legal for the PM, or the Military (the real sovereign) to prevent protest?”

    Also Sunday night, the British Consulate in Jerusalem sent out a series of Tweets about the developments in Bab al-Shams, including this one:

UK in Jerusalem @ukinjerusalem#Palestinian#BabAlShams has been declared by the #Israeli army a closed #military zone.

At midnight Israel’s Army gave declaration to Supreme Court about the urgent military need to remove people from #BabAlShams.  While waiting to see if Israeli Supreme Court will rescind the injunction “which is delaying the evacuation”, the Prime Minister’s office noted that the area is now a Closed Military Zone.

Soldiers began moving toward Bab Al-Shams on foot just before midnight, according to reports from those present [see our previous post].  By 2:oo am, those in the tent village knew what was about to happen.  The evacuation operation began at 3 am, and within an hour the 100+ Palestinians in Bab Al-Shams had all had their ID numbers noted down, and been put on police busses.  By 4 am they were driven off — into Jerusalem via the Mount Scopus tunnel, then taking a sharp right turn to Qalandia Checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah.  At 5 am, the busses let off at Qalandia Checkpoint all those who had been detained.

A few hours later, I asked Attorney Jabareen what had actually happened in Israel’s Supreme Court.   He told me that at midnight Israel’s Army gave declaration to Supreme Court about the urgent military and security need to remove people from Bab al-Shams [note: Israeli officials refuse to utter that name] because a lot of Palestinian and international activists had been gathering in this place, and the Army  said they were afraid of violent acts.  In addition, the Army said, it had information that Israeli right-wing extremists will gather there to protest against the Palestinian action — and this will cause violence and clashes.

The Army did not make any application to the Supreme Court, Attorney Jabareen said, they only submitted this declaration — and  they sent a copy to him.  “The Court did not have to say a word”, he said.  The Court was  not asked by the Army to do anything at all — “nothing!’.

The Israeli Army carried out PM Netanyahu’s Executive order without a word from Israel’s Supreme Court. They acted as if informing the Court of a security threat was enough, and had fulfilled the requirements of the Court’s injunction.  They assumed no approval was needed.

And the Army then acted in Bab Al-Shams.

Attorney Jabareen said that the Army also informed the Court that the tents would not be removed.  But, they said, some of the tents have been built on State land, and some have not.  The Army told the Court that they will, today or tomorrow, check exactly which tents are on State land [and not on the property privately owned by the 4 Palestinian families from the Mount of Olives] — and then the Army will apply to the Court to nullify its injunction concerning the tents on State land, so those tents can be removed…

Continue reading Attorney Tawfik Jabareen explains what did [and did not] happen in the Supreme Court last midnight

Then, at 4 am, the Israeli Police moved in… evacuated everybody [ + may or may not have torn down tents]

As we reported in our previous post, Abir Kopty had reported hearing police move in on the Bab Al-Shams tent village in E-1, on foot, just before midnight…

After that, it was a long night.

Nobody really knows what happened to the tents, because the site is still a closed military zone [at least until 00h30 on Monday] … but it was peculiar that the Israeli Army interpreted so… well, literally, the Supreme Court’s injunction against evicting and/or destroying the 21 or so tents that were put up on Friday morning at Bab al-Shams.

But, the people were certainly removed.

Irene Nasser picked up the story at 2 am, Abir Kopty was also Tweeting, and Fadi Quran joined in at 4 am, sending out these Tweets :

2 am
Irene Nasser @Irene_Nasser — Bulldozers are moving closer towards us along with a large police force after the court gave permission to evict #BabAlShams. Freezing cold

3 am
Abir Kopty @AbirKopty — We are gathered, they are approaching us #BabAlShams
Aljazeera will go live now from here #BabAlShams
They have a strong flash to disturb the cameras of the press #BabAlShams

3 am
Irene Nasser @Irene_Nasser — Dozens of military buses are at the bottom of the hill. Soldiers are moving closer by foot
lights of police cars popping up across the hills around us. press has stuck out the cold and is still here to document #BabAlShams
Military jeeps are almost at the first tent #BabAlShams
They’re here #BabAlShams
We’re surrounded. #BabAlShams
There’s no where to go, it’s dark and can barely see anything. #BabAlShams
They’re closing on the group violently #BabAlShams
First arrest. Not sure who hard to see #BabAlShams
They’re attacking press and moving them out #BabAlShams
More arrested without any of us seeing who #BabAlShams

4 am
Irene Nasser @Irene_Nasser — We’re ALL detained #BabAlShams
We’re on a police bus being moved. Not sure where to #BabAlShams

4 am Fadi Quran @fadiquran
Just arrested, in arrest bus #BabAlShams staying strong
Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again #BabAlshams

5 am
Irene Nasser @Irene_Nasser — The bus is taking us through #Jerusalem. We seem to be heading either to atarot police station or qalandia checkpoint #BabAlShams
Some detained have either not been to #Jerusalem 10+ yrs or some even never seeing it now for 1st time on an arrest vehicle #BabAlShams
2 full buses of those arrested at #BabAlShams have been release at qalandia checkpoint. I’m on the 3rd bus with others #BabAlShams

5 am Fadi Quran @fadiquran
They just released all of us at Qalandia #BabAlShams

6 am
Irene Nasser @Irene_Nasser — 3 were taken to hospitals. 1 in ramallah and 2 in #Jerusalem who may be arrested. #BabAlShams
Going to the hospital in ramallah to find the 2 injured transferred from the israeli ambulance. #BabAlShams
All those injured (4) have been released. They suffered bad wounds to the face from police punching and violence #BabAlShams
Sun will soon rise on our village. Empty tents, blankets thrown everywhere. They may have evicted us but we’ll always remain. #BabAlShams

6 am
Abir Kopty @AbirKopty — 6 injuries in total during the attack on #BabAlShams, we are here at the hospital with them

7 am
Irene Nasser @Irene_Nasser — Correction: 6 injuries in total. 2 minor


Here is a photo of Hafez Omar, taken after the Israeli Policy + Army evacuated Bab Al-Shams tent village in the E-1 area, east of Jerusalem:

Hafez Omar after the evacuation of Bab Al-Shams
Hafez Omar after the evacuation of Bab Al-Shams


Reactions + Comments:
Ori Nir @OriNir_APN — Isr’ gov’ proves it can quickly and efficiently remove a Palestinian WB illegal outpost. So, how about the ~ 100 illegal Jewish outposts?

Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann — Message of today’s E1 eviction: what is allowed to hilltop West Bank settlers, social protesters in Tel Aviv, is forbidden to Palestinians.

Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann — The message of today’s E1 eviction to WB Palestinians: you may not protest non-violently. That leaves submission or… ahem. Dumb. Just dumb.

Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann — The State claimed that a non-violent E1/Bab Alshams protest in isolated area created “urgent security danger and threat to public safety”

Brent E. Sasley @besasley — @DanielSeidemann So Bibi *did* flagrantly ignore the Supreme Court. Very surprising, and a terrible precedent.

Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann — @besasley The injunction forbids destruction/removal of the E1 protest tents for 6 days, unless there is an urgent security concern. 1/2

Until midnight, at least, Silent Night at Bab Al-Shams

A beautiful photo from Activestills of the Bab Al-Shams tents illuminated peacefully on Saturday night, just before midnight — thanks to the power of the [still in place] injunction against eviction ordered by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Bab Al-Shams tents peacefully illuminated on Saturday night
Bab Al-Shams tents peacefully illuminated on Saturday night

Photo Tweeted by YasminWaQahwa:
@YasminWaQahwa — Palestinian #BabAlShams village camp at night. Stars on earth. #resistance

But, at ten minutes before midnight, Abir Kopty sent this Tweet:
?@AbirKopty — Soldiers on foot are coming closer. #BabAlShams

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu orders immediate evacuation of "Palestinians who have gathered in the area between Maale Adumim + Jerusalem". That's a lot of people…

Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid Tweeted at 6pm on Saturday, just after the end of the Jewish Shabat:

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid — Breaking: PM Netnayahu ordered security forces to evict the Palestinian Bab El-Shams outpost in E1 area between Maale-Edomim and Jerusalem

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid — PM Netanyahu gives order to evict #BabAlShams Palestinian outpost. The state will ask the supreme court to cancel the restraining order

Within a few minutes, this statement from the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser was issued via the Government Press Office:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered security forces to evacuate forthwith the Palestinians who have gathered in the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem. To this end, the State will, this evening (Saturday, 11 January 2013), request that the High Court of Justice rescind the injunction that it had issued and which is delaying the evacuation. Until the High Court responds to the State’s motion, the Prime Minister has ordered the closure of access roads to the area in order to prevent gatherings. At this stage, the area has been declared a closed military zone”.

The statement doesn’t actually say that Bab Al-Shams is to be evacuated… It specifies that security forces should “evacuate forthwith the Palestinians who have gathered in the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem”…

Actually, that’s a lot of people.

But, in any case, what will happen if Israel’s Supreme Court does not agree?

There are private Palestinian owners of the land on which the Bab Al-Shams tent city has been erected, and they have given their permission for this presence:

The owners of the land on which Bab Al-Shams is located show their ownership deeds or papers — via a Tweet from @Tweet_Palestine posted here:

 #BabAlshams land owner shows his ownership papers or deeds
#BabAlshams land owner shows his ownership papers or deeds

Daniel Seidemann, Israeli Attorney and founder of Ir Amim, now of Terrestrial Jerusalem, said, however, on Twitter that “From the Israeli legal perspective, the land ownership is NOT any issue. This is “state” land. There is really one issue.  Do the occupied have the right to protest, and is it legal for the PM, or the Military (the real sovereign) to prevent protest?

Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann — Netanyahu’s hyping Bab Alshams/E1 as an electoral prop There’s no violence or danger to public order. Just stifling dissent, scoring points.

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — And, what if the Supreme Court just doesn’t agree to go along with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Executive request to thrown out their injunction?

@DanielSeidemann @Marianhouk Bibi actually might like being held back by Supreme Court. He will look like Giuliani to his base, and not have to do anything

Marian Houk @MarianhoukIf Netanyahu is playing to the electorate, it probably won’t be very good for vote if [– IF– ] Israel’s Supreme Court snubs his request.  Could Supreme Court really be willing to back a PM trying to stifle dissent?

@DanielSeidemann @Marianhouk My guess? The Court to likely avoid rendering a judgment, sending parties to settle out of court. Technical, temporary decisions

Marian Houk @Marianhouk@DanielSeidemann – Then what? Esp. if military + police are upset about “provocation”, PM wants to suppress dissent? Tense stand-off till ?

Daniel Seidemann @DanielSeidemann @Marianhouk Life will look different for everyone after the elections

Marian Houk @Marianhouk @DanielSeidemann – and Supreme Court injunction will expire on Wednesday if the Court doesn’t agree to void it earlier…

Israeli Police threaten to evict people [not tents] from Bab al-Shams

Palestinian activists who spent a cold night in the tent village of Bab al-Shams were awakened this morning by a visit from the Israeli Police who said they would be evicted “soon”.

The Israeli Police told the Bab al-Shams residents that the Israeli Supreme Court Order ordering a six-day stay in any eviction proceedings should apply only to the tents they raised yesterday on a hilltop in the E-1 area [east of Jerusalem] — and not to the people staying there.

The Israeli Police obtained an eviction order on Friday, shortly after they realized the Palestinians were setting up Bab Al-Shams, apparently on the grounds of “trespassing”.

Civil Rights Attorney Tawfik Jabareen, who represents Bab Al-Shams and who got the Supreme Court injunction on Friday, said this morning that he thought it was a joke, when he was told about the Israeli police interpretation of Supreme Court injunction.

    #BabAlShams Attorney said he had just sent a letter to Police Commander in E-1/Maale Adumim saying that police interpretation of Supreme Court order is wrong
    “The order is very clear”, #BabAlShams Atty. “It includes tents + people…+ it is forbidden for military commander to evict and/or destroy”
    If the police or military commander have a different interpretation of Court injunction, he/they must go to the Court — #BabAlShams Atty
    If any police/military official acts against Supreme Court injunction, “on his deed a black flag arises” — and this means, it’s illegal: #BabAlShams Attorney

UPDATE: On Saturday afternoon, the Times of Israel added this reporting:
The Supreme Court decision to temporarily halt the removal of the tent city came after four Bedouin families who claim the land submitted a petition. Tawfiq Jabarin presented their case, which contended the tents were erected on private lands as part of a project that attracts tourists to learn about their culture, known as ‘Albadia’. The petition further claimed the initiative, which includes learning how to bake pita or milling flour on stones, only takes places seasonally, in the winter and spring, Haaretz reported. The army and police sought to remove the Supreme Court’s temporary order on the grounds that the petitioners misled the court, arguing that the outpost is a political provocation and not a cultural project. The security forces further contended that the court order prevents the removal of the tents but not of the individuals at the outpost … The IDF also made the area a closed military zone, thereby preventing new activists from reaching it. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the protesters were handed documents saying they were trespassing“. This is posted here.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have been arriving on at Bab Al-Shams on foot, walking across the hills to avoid roadblocks, as this picture Tweeted by Abir Kopty at middday, here, shows:

Palestinians arrive in Bab Al-Shams by foot, to avoid roadblocks
Palestinians arrive in Bab Al-Shams by foot, to avoid roadblocks

Activestills posted a shot, here, of Palestinian activists arriving in Bab Al-Shams this afternoonL

Activestills photo of Palestinian activists arriving today at Bab Al-Shams tent village
Activestills photo of Palestinian activists arriving today at Bab Al-Shams tent village

And Palestinians from the southern West Bank town of Beit Ommar also went through the hills to arrive at Bab Al-Shams, according to a photo Tweeted by Bekah Wolf:
@BekahWolf— PHOTO: Activists from Beit Ommar make it in to #babalshams going around Israeli military roadblocks this morning

ctivists from Beit Ommar make it in to #babalshams
Palestinian activists from Beit Ommar make it in to #babalshams

But, two Palestinian officials were prevented from arriving at Bab Al-Shams by car. Ma’an News Agency reported that “Israeli forces on Saturday prevented Palestinian officials from entering the E1 area east of Jerusalem to visit protest tents set up a day earlier by activists. ‘The soldiers treated us improperly and savagely before they forced us to go back to Ramallah’, PLO official Hanan Ashrawi told Ma’an. A vehicle carrying Ashrawi and PA minister of social affairs, Majida al-Masri, was stopped and searched at a checkpoint, with soldiers preventing the officials from continuing to the E1 area, despite holding Jerusalem ID cards”. This is posted here.

Ashrawi later told Reuters’ Noah Browning that “We will continue to try to enter the village of Bab el Shams, which to us means freedom”.  This is posted here.

Sa’eb Erekat was also reportedly blocked from getting to Bab Al-Shams, while Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, an elected member of the moribund Palestinian Legislative Council, was able to get through, probably by going on foot…

Palestinians move into E-1 – and erect Bab al-Shams tent village

A lovely picture of the “Bab Al-Shams” tent village set up today by Palestinian activists in the E-1 area of the West Bank – Photo taken + Tweeted by Palestinian photographer Ahmad Daghlas and posted here:

Bab Al-Shams tent city in E-1 area east of Jerusalem
Bab Al-Shams tent city in E-1 area east of Jerusalem. A Palestinian flag was raised, visible on the right horizon of the tent city.

An earlier photo of the raised Palestinian flag is posted here:

The Palestinian flag was raised today at Bab Al-Shams tent village in E-1
The Palestinian flag was raised today at Bab Al-Shams tent village in E-1

PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi issued a statement of support, saying: “We have the right to live anywhere in our State”.

Ashrawi added that “This initiative is a highly creative and legitimate non-violent tool to protect our land from Israeli colonial plans … and we call upon the international community, to support such initiatives, as well as to protect those who are being threatened by Israeli occupation forces for exercising their right to peaceful resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation”.

Another good photo of the Palestinian flag being raised at Bab Al-Shams was published by +972 Magazine to illustrate a piece on Bab Al-Shams by Haggai Matar that’s posted here:

Activestills photo of Palestinian flag being raised at Bab al-Shams
Activestills photo of Palestinian flag being raised at Bab al-Shams

UPDATE: Tweets on Saturday morning spoke of a night of bitter cold, and a possible imminent eviction threatened on a technicality:

Lema @Lemapal — Israeli military just announced to us that the court decision allows tents for 6 days not people. They make evict us soon #BabAlShams

This, its organizers have suggested, is — at least in the way it is being established and organized — the first Palestinian “settlement”.

But, they Tweeted, they don’t like this terminology:
BabAlshams @Bab_Alshams — For anyone referring to #BabAlShams as an outpost or settlement, we own the land this village is created on Palestinian land not land theft!

The New York Times reported here that “Adopting a tactic more commonly employed by Jewish settlers who establish wildcat outposts in the West Bank, scores of Palestinian activists and international supporters erected tents on Friday in a hotly contested piece of Israeli-occupied West Bank territory known as E1, and said they intended to stay put”.

Reuters reported that ” ‘We are setting up a Palestinian village here where people will stay permanently in order to protect this Palestinian land’, said Mohammad Khatib, one of the organisers of the tent village…’This is not a symbolic act, but comes in response to Israeli settlement building and we are sending a message to the international community that urgent action must be taken against Israel’s settlement construction’, Khatib said”. This is posted here

The NYTimes blog, The Lede, also covered the story, reporting that “About 200 Palestinian activists set up camp, and a Twitter feed, on Friday in a part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank just east of Jerusalem known as E1ref=””… This is posted here.

By nighttime on Friday, it was announced that each tent was being connected to electricity, and a satellite TV was installed.

On Twitter, Internews journalist/editor/HuffPostblogger/producer Jamal Dajani took issue with the NYTimes use of the word *contested*:
Jamal Dajani @JamalDajani — Contested? “@nytimes: Palestinians Set Up Camp in Israeli-Occupied West Bank Territory ”

Israeli Police quickly arrived and informed the Palestinians they were “trespassing” and served several sets of eviction papers.  But, Abir Kopty Tweeted:
MT @AbirKopty We were ready for the eviction order so, while building #BabAlShams, we went to court & got suspending order!

Apparently, the land on which the tent village has been pitched is owned by a Palestinian family from East Jerusalem who have given their approval to this initiative…

Continue reading Palestinians move into E-1 – and erect Bab al-Shams tent village