Netanyahu on Evacuating Palestinian Protest Tents: Nobody Will Block E-1 Corridor

Israeli security forces on Sunday cleared about one hundred Palestinian activists from the encampment they had set up between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumin two days earlier.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he had ordered the immediate evacuation of a Palestinian protest encampment in the the E-1 corridor east of Jerusalem, vowing that Israel would not let anyone stop it from connecting the capital to Ma'aleh Adumim.

Israeli security forces cleared about 100 Palestinian activists early on Sunday from the tent city that had pitched as a protest against Israeli plans to expand settlement construction there.

Israel's Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Palestinian outpost, built in the geographically sensitive area known as E-1, could remain for six days while the issue of the removal of the tents was being discussed.Netanyahu ordered the evacuation immediately, however, despite the court's ruling.

A police spokesman explained that the court had allowed for the removal of the protesters even if the tents, for now, will stay.

Netanyahu said he had ordered the area sealed off to prevent clashes.

"I immediately called for the area to be closed off so there would not be large gatherings there that could cause friction and breach the public order," he said.

"We will not let anyone harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim," Netanyahu said.

Hundreds of Israeli police and border guards entered the compound and told a crowd of about 100 to leave the 20 large, steel-framed tents erected on Friday.

Those protesters who refused to leave were carried down the hill by Israeli officers and detained, but were not jailed.

Israeli police vans took them to the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government.

"Everyone was evacuated carefully and swiftly, without any injuries to officers or protesters," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Palestinian activists criticized the raid and promised more protest camps in areas designated by Israel for settlements.

"The eviction and the exercise of force is another indication that Israel is defying the international consensus on the need to vacate occupied Palestinian land," Palestinian government spokesman Nour Odeh said.

For years, Israel froze building in E-1, which currently houses only a police headquarters, after coming under pressure from former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Netanyahu said Israel would build at E-1 after the planning process was completed.

"It is a gradual process, it will take time. It will not happen immediately, you understand our bureaucratic process... We will complete the planning and there will be building there," he told Army Radio.

Israel announced plans to expand settlements, mainly in West Bank areas around Jerusalem, after the Palestinians won de-facto recognition of statehood at the UN General Assembly in November.

International powers view all Jewish settlement building in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War as detrimental to securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

E-1 covers 4.6 square miles (12 square km) and is seen as particularly important because it not only juts into the narrow "waist" of the West Bank, but backs onto East Jerusalem.

Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, dominated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, and the Gaza Strip, run by the rival Islamist group Hamas, with East Jerusalem as the capital.

About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 over the issue of Israel's continued settlement building.

The Palestinian tent camp in E-1, January 12, 2013.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
A Jewish settler looking at the West bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim, from the E-1 area on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem.Credit: AP
The Palestinian tent camp in E-1, January 12, 2013.
Israeli security forces evacuate Palestinian tent city in E-1 area of the West Bank.
Israeli security forces evacuate Palestinian tent city in E-1 area of the West Bank.
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The Palestinian tent camp in E-1, January 12, 2013.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
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Israeli security forces evacuate Palestinian tent city in E-1 area of the West Bank.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
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Israeli security forces evacuate Palestinian tent city in E-1 area of the West Bank.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Palestinians protest construction in E-1 corridor

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