Israeli premier seeks court nod to remove Palestinian tents

January 13, 2013 - 12:43:00 am

Palestinian activists fix flags on a tent in an ‘outpost’ named Bab Al Shams (Gate of the Sun) that they set up between Jerusalem and the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in an area where Israel has vowed to build new settler homes, yesterday.  

E1, West Bank: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday he was seeking court approval to remove an outpost of Palestinian tents pitched in an area of the occupied West Bank that Israel has earmarked for a new settlement.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Palestinian outpost, built in the geographically sensitive area known as E1, could remain for six days while the issue of its removal was being discussed.

Netanyahu’s pledge last November to build settlements on E1 caused an outcry, with European diplomats warning that it could kill off any hope of creating a contiguous Palestinian state.

The prime minister’s office said in a statement yesterday that the government was petitioning the court to retract its ruling on the outpost, and had instructed security forces to block off roads leading to the rocky desert terrain.

A group of Palestinian lawmakers was refused entry. But others who came from nearby villages made the long trek up the hillside northeast of Jerusalem to join scores of protesters who have erected 20 large, steel-framed tents in an effort to preserve the land for a future Palestinian state.

The encampment’s name, “Bab el Shams”, which means “Gateway to the Sun” in Arabic, was taken from a novel by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury which tells the history of the Palestinians through a love story. The writer called the protesters in solidarity.

Hanan Ashrawi, a top Palestine Liberation Organisation official, said Israeli forces had prevented her from entering the compound with other lawmakers.