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”.

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…

NYTimes correction on E-1 — do they have it right now, or not?

The New York Times has today issued a correction to an earlier story on E-1 [published on 2 December here]:
An article on Dec. 2 about Israel’s decision to move forward with planning and zoning for settlements in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1 described imprecisely the effect of such development on access to the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and on the West Bank. Development of E1 would limit access to Ramallah and Bethlehem, leaving narrow corridors far from the Old City and downtown Jerusalem; it would not completely cut off those cities from Jerusalem. It would also create a large block of Israeli settlements in the center of the West Bank; it would not divide the West Bank in two. And because of an editing error, the article referred incompletely to the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. Critics see E1 as a threat to the meaningful contiguity of such a state because it would leave some Palestinian areas connected by roads with few exits or by circuitous routes; the proposed development would not technically make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.  This correction was published in the NYTimes print edition today [though this correction is dated 7 December and was earlier posted online on 10 December], and is posted here.]

[UPDATE: CAMERA has taken credit here for pushing the NYTimes to issue this + another correction {concerning a story published on 30 November here}…Hat tip to Max Blumenthal {who on Twitter called the latest correction “absurd”}:
@MaxBlumenthal — Right-wing pro-Israel media monitoring front CAMERA takes credit for absurd NY Times “correction” on E1 settlements: … ]

Well, does the NYTimes have it right, now? No.

First of all, cutting to the crux, E-1 development by itself would probably not “technically make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible”, no.

But it would make movement for Palestinians so difficult that they would stay at home most of the time.

Maybe providing a massive, frequent, comfortable and convenient and inexpensive helicopter service between the north and the south and the east of the West Bank would solve the problem, but that’s not going to happen — and why would anyone want kind of a solution?

In any case, the real problem is that any of the proposed solutions [roads, tunnels, bridges — but not helicopters, not really, as we’re not talking about Brasilia] are dependent on Israeli happiness and good will at all times.

One incident could and would result in the cutting off of movement for hours or for months + years.

The NYTimes correction says almost dismissively, as if it is of little or no importance, that only “some Palestinian areas” would be affected. So, we shouldn’t care about that? It’s not supposed to matter?

What Palestinians want is freedom, dignity, independence, and real self-rule in their own state — it cannot be argued that Palestinians have had any kind of real self-rule since the signing of the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to be a transition to self-rule, in September 1993.

Palestinians want and deserve a return to some zone of comfort in their daily lives which has not existed for many years, particularly since the start of the Second Intifada at the end of September 2000.

And, as American presidents have said, they deserve dignity, and dignified lives.

Akiva Eldar, in a piece published in Al-Monitor, reminds us that although the Levy report might argue that the West Bank is not occupied [but instead disputed, and apparently therefore up for Israel to grab], this is not the view of most of the outside world.

Eldar was writing about what he viewed as a rather limp reaction by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Netanyahu’s E-1 announcement [which Eldar call “agreeing to disagree”]: “Presumably, when she said at the press conference that Israel was a sovereign state and therefore Germany could not impose its position on the settlements, Merkel did not mean to say that Israel was the sovereign in the West Bank. Israel itself does not claim ownership over Area E1. The proposed plan was submitted for the approval of the planning and construction committee of the Civil Administration in the occupied territories and not to the parallel committee in Jerusalem. Even according to Israel’s official position, the question of sovereignty over these areas, as well as over the rest of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, remains controversial. Furthermore, in 2003 Netanyahu was a cabinet member in then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s government, which signed an international commitment to abstain from taking such actions. The road map hatched out by the the Quartet, which consisted of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations and submitted to Israel and the Palestinians explicitly stated that Israel had to completely discontinue all construction in the territories”. This is posted here.

Continue reading NYTimes correction on E-1 — do they have it right now, or not?

E-1 — oh yeah, it's a big deal

Here is a graphic published by Haaretz showing the E-1 area to the east of Israel’s “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”:

Haaretz graphic of E-1 - published 4 December 2012 <a href=
Haaretz graphic of E-1 - published on 4 December 2012 - click to enlarge

So, if there actually were an agreement that Anata + Abu Dis would go to Palestine, you can see what E-1 would do to that…

UPDATE: Daniel Seidemann has published another good graphic showing the E-1 in context, posted here.  But there is one settlement missing – Anatot – on the western edge of E-1, not far from Hizmah and Pisgat Zeev.

Here’s what Chemi Shalev, author of the Haaretz Q+A on “What is area E-1, anyway?”, posted here, which this graphic illustrates, wrote:

“In 2004, the Housing Ministry began massive earthworks in the area. The Palestinian Authority complained to the Bush Administration. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who was the liaison with the Prime Minister’s Bureau, asked for clarifications. Dov Weissglas, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s envoy, promised that Israel would not build in E-1. And indeed, in 2005 the plans were frozen, and have remained so ever since”.

…[Under Rabin] in 1994, the government started the initial planning of the area.

Shaev explained what was done — despite the period of “clarifications” — by the Housing Ministry in that period [and some since]:

Q. What did they build there?
A. The Housing Ministry prepared, with an investment of millions of shekels, the infrastructure for putting up residential buildings in the southern neighborhood. This included a cloverleaf interchange over Highway 1, a three-lane highway in each direction, excavation in the rock in order to flatten the hill, preparation for sewage infrastructures and the like.

In another Q+A, Shalev explains what seems to be a contradiction:
Q. How did they start building if there are no building permits?
A. From 2003-2005 the Housing Ministry, under the leadership of Minister Effie Eitam, did massive illegal building in a number of places. E-1 was only one of them.

Shalev also took issue with the claim [advanced by + The Israel Project, as we reported here yesterday] that Israel’s contiguity of from Jerusalem to Maale Adumum would be disrupted if E-1 were not developed [with Israeli settlements]:

Q. Another argument the right is raising is that this is essential for creating contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
A. False. There is no possibility of creating contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim because even if E-1 is built, a belt made up by the Arab towns of Anata, Al Zaiyim and Azariya will stand in between.

And, as with everything related to Palestinians — whose consent is never needed for Israel to act unilaterally as it wants — Shalev notes:

“There are also enclaves of Palestinian land in the area, but the plan does not relate to them”.

In fact, it seems that they will be displaced, including the Jahalin Bedouin who have already been displaced in 1948 + 1967, without any care for what happens to them… no nice settlement-style houses with public facilities will be constructed for them…

[One minor point of correction to Shalev’s Q+A:   The way it’s written, you could read his third Q+A to mean that Mitzpe Yeriho is part of the E-1 area.  But, it seems that particular answer was a general description of the E area, as Mitzpe Yeriho  which was originally a kind of civil defense avant-guard front line settlement, is built on a hilltop overlooking the Palestinian city of Jericho [which will become a surrounded enclave if the Israeli plans are realized]… But Mitzpe Yeriho also overlooks a large swath of the Jordanian border just north of the Dead Sea.  In other words, Mitzpe Yeriho, one of many Israeli settlemets of all kinds in the Jordan Valley, is much further east than the E-1 area.]

UPDATE: Isabel Kershner reported some Israeli reaction in the New York Times: “ ‘Bibi had to do something’ in response to the United Nations vote, said Prof. Shmuel Sandler of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan Universiy, referring to the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname, ‘first because he is Bibi and second because of the elections’.” [Netanyahu has called general elections for 22 January.]  This NYTimes story also reported that Mark Heller, foreign policy analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, in Tel Aviv, said that “the top-level people making decisions here in recent years are completely insular and out of touch with the rest of the world, especially regarding the Palestinians and the settlements … Self-righteousness may be good for domestic politics, but it is not a policy’.”   Kershner also noted in her report, posted here, that “A press officer for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Sunday that construction in E1 ‘would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution’.”

Reuters Bureau Chief in Jerusalem Crispin Balmer wrote that “Israelis have already named the prospective settlement Mevasseret Adumim – Tidings of Adumim. Maale Adumim itself means Red Heights – a reference to the surrounding mountains that glow at sunset. Preparation for building started long ago and a sealed-off bridge stands ready to link Maale Adumim with its projected sister settlement, while a major road intersection swings up into E1 from the highway that heads down to the nearby Dead Sea…Israeli authorities drew up plans in 2006 to move the Arab Bedouin to another site. They have yet to act on it, but rights groups say the project is specifically designed to clear the way for E1 development”. But, Balmer noted, the general director of the municipality of Maale Adumim, Eli Har Nir, told him that “‘The media are telling lies about this conflict all the time … You can’t even see Jerusalem from here. There is still six kilometers of open land that does not belong to E1 or to Maale Adumim’, he said, arguing that this space could be used to build roads for Palestinians”. This is published here.


UPDATE More on E-1 [and various boasts and then assurances] from Twitter over several days —

Sunday 2 December 2012

Aluf Benn @alufbenn — BB will probably not build E1 for now, merely push the project through approval channels

Dan Williams @DanWilliams — “Today we are building and will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all the places on the map of Israeli strategic interests” – @Netanyahu

@DanWilliams — There’ll be no Palestinian state without an accord recognising the Jewish state and guaranteeing its security needs – @Netanyahu statement

Amir Mizroch @Amirmizroch — If US and UK can’t stop Abbas going to UNGA what their chance of stopping settlement construction @sheikhNB @DanWilliams

Peter Beinart @PeterBeinart – For the American Jewish establishment, 138 countries voting to upgrade Palestine is “unilateral” but settling E1 is not

Monday 3  December 2012

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid — White House: U.S. calls on Israel to reconsider settlement plan in E-1 –

@BarakRavid — State Department: We have made clear to the Israeli government that promoting E1 plan is contrary to U.S. policy

@BarakRavid — State Department: building in the E-1 area is particularly sensitive

4 or  5 December 2012

@DanielSeidemann — @yaacovlozowick Is it it be possible to locate documents in State Archives about the origin of the name E-1. The name isn’t controversial.

@yaacovlozowick — @DanielSeidemann Were looking. Sometime around 1994, I assume?

@DanielSeidemann — @yaacovlozowick State Archives should find that planning of E-1 began in ’93-4, but the name was given to area by Min. of Constr. in ’70s

Thursday 13 December 2012:

@Marianhouk — [ On E-1 ] RT @jacobkornbluh “@BarakRavid @PeterBeinart did anyone condemn Rabin for approving the plans back then?”

@DanielSeidemann — @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart E-1 planning began under Rabin, but he quietly agreed with Clinton: E1 would be negotiated, not built

@DanielSeidemann — @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart Rabin was as good as his word: no steps were taken for the statutory approval of E-1 under Rabin.

Michael Pitkowsky @mpitkowsky — @DanielSeidemann @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart See this doc from Pal Papers r.e. E1 and alleged Isr promise

Excerpt from this Palestine Papers document, posted on the Al-Jazeera website here: “Saeb Erekat: We gave Barack Obama a file that gave him all the details on this issue, on E1, on Ma’ale Adumim, etc. Hilary Clinton told us that E1 wasn’t going to happen but to be quiet. She got something from the Israelis”.

@DanielSeidemann — @mpitkowsky @Marianhouk @BarakRavid @PeterBeinart  Thanks! , My reliable US sources say: Bibi told us “no action will be taken on E1”.

Israeli official in Netanyahu's office: we won't go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, who loves having sensational scoops, started off the day Sunday by floating a report that Britain + France may recall their ambassadors to Israel — an unprecedented step — in response to the Netanyahu cabinet’s announcement on 30 November that it would advance the planning process to build in E-1.

The E-1 area is, as Israeli lawyer and Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann has said over and over in recent days, the “Doomsday” settlement.

The Netanyahu cabinet also said it would build some 3,000 other settlement units in as-yet-unspecified places in and around Jerusalem [or, what Israeli officials unilaterally defined in 1967 as the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”].

As it happened, Britain and France were not ready to recall their ambassadors — a futile step in any case, however sensational.

Instead, Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark called in the Israeli Ambassadors to their capitals, and expressed their dismay and displeasure. UPDATE: Australia and Brazil, Ireland and Finland all did the same on Monday.

The Israeli reaction was unruffled.  What did they expect, Israeli officials said [it was not a question, but an expression of attitude, specifically disdain]: we said we would take retaliatory action if the Palestinians went ahead with their UNGA move, and that’s what we are doing.

In Washington, a new twist: the U.S. equally disapproves of “unilateral” measures such as a.) the PLO going to the UN to upgrade the status of Palestine, or b.) the Israeli settlement building.  This is being called “even-handed”

The flurry of announcements was dizzying.

Settlers moved, unopposed, into empty apartments in a five-story building at Jabel Muqaber [south-east Jerusalem]

A street was closed in Wadi Hilweh, Silwan, for tunnel-digging [which a few meters north has caused collapsing structures overhead]

Ma’ariv reported that a West Bank planning commission would meet on Wednesday to expedite [yes, that’s what the cabinet said it would do, and that’s what’s happening] Israeli development in E-1.

On Tuesday, the Times of Israel gave the first indication of where the 3,000 promised new settlement units would be located, reporting here “Some 1,700 units are scheduled for approval by the [Jerusalem] municipality in Ramat Shlomo, a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on the northern outskirts of the city. The construction plans were initially okayed a year ago, during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden. The plans were frozen after an international outcry over the timing of the approval, which were seen as disrespectful to Washington.The municipality will also green-light the construction of the first new neighborhood beyond the Green Line since the 1997 decision to build Har Homa. Thousands of apartments are to be approved in Givat Hamatos, located next to the Jewish neighborhood of Talpiot and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa”.

These are just north and just south of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

E-1 is, as the name shows, the first block of land east of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

Israel’s act of selecting areas of the West Bank to include in its “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” was unilateral…

And, now there’s a new idea being put forward by Israeli and pro-Israeli advocacy groups. turns the table and attempts to argue here that it is Israel’s territorial contiguity that will be affected if E-1 is NOT developed… This posting is dated 2 December 2012. The Israel Project [TIP] does the same thing [but with a different map, which doesn’t show this exaggerated detour].

Continue reading Israeli official in Netanyahu's office: we won't go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals