Dozens of Palestinian activists erected a large tent on state land in the northern Jordan Valley Thursday, Nov. 17, near the Israeli town of Mehola.
Eyewitness Hezy Eyal told TPS that the Palestinians called it a “settlement outpost” and said the move was intended to “protest Jewish settlements in the region.” They called the area Yasir Arafat Village.
Eyal said about two dozen Israeli activists joined the protest, asking why Israelis were living on “Palestinian land” and demanding that IDF forces not expel the Palestinians from the site.
IDF and local security forces responded to the demonstration, and field commanders on site ordered the protesters to leave. As of this writing, the protesters have not left, and security forces have not removed them.
Earlier in the week, the Legalization Bill passed a first reading in the Knesset. The controversial measure would block the Supreme Court ordered demolition of two outposts, Netiv HaAvot and Amona, by retroactively authorizing them.
The Supreme Court has accepted Palestinian claims that both outposts were built on privately owned Palestinian land and ordered the government to dismantle the communities.
Netiv HaAvot, located adjacent to the town of Elazar in Gush Etzion, is scheduled for demolition by March, 2018.
Amona residents are scheduled to be evicted by December 25, 2016.
Meretz MK Issawi Freij called Amona residents “criminals” on Nov. 16, attacking the Legalization Bill.
Freij singled out Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for criticism, saying the leader of the Kulanu Party has “no backbone” and saying the government does not have the right priorities.
“Instead of helping hundreds of thousands of elderly Israelis without nursing care insurance, [the government] concentrate(s) on efforts to help 30 criminals,” Freij said.
Opposition Leader and Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog also criticized the bill, saying the measure would create a complicated situation for both Israel and the IDF.
“This is a nightmarish law for the Knesset,” Herzog said. “This is the first time the Knesset has voted for a bill in direct opposition to constitutional law and international law.”
On Nov. 16, lawyers for the Jerusalem Municipality asked the Jerusalem District Court to order immediate execution of 14 demolition orders for buildings in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina. Illegal construction there currently houses around 40 families.
In the meantime, Jewish Home MKs Naftali Bennett and Bezalel Smotrich welcomed Trump’s election and said they expected the new administration not to object to a large-scale building program in the West Bank.
But speaking to local authorities on Nov. 17 about the Amona eviction and the aforementioned bill, Liberman cautioned the activists about overreacting to the recent string of events. He said the incoming administration has asked Israel to behave “modestly.”
“I deplore the people attempting to mislead the residents and to set expectancies, because afterwards we still need to deal with the reality.
“I call for responsibility and not militancy,” Liberman concluded.
Ilana Messika contributed to this report.