Israel Vows to Build in West Bank Site After Evicting Protesters

Posted January 13th, 2013 at 9:20 am (UTC-5)
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Israel's prime minister has vowed to move ahead with settlement building in a Palestinian-claimed area near Jerusalem after Israeli security forces evicted more than 100 Palestinian protesters from the site.

In an interview on Israeli radio Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu said “there will construction” in the disputed E-1 zone between Israeli occupied East Jerusalem and the major West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim. But, he said it will take time for Israel to complete the planning process for thousands of housing units.

Israeli security personnel entered the zone before dawn Sunday and removed dozens of Palestinians who had set up tents on Friday to protest the proposed settlement project. Mr. Netanyahu told a Cabinet meeting that he ordered the eviction to prevent anyone from harming what he called Israel's claim to territorial “contiguity” between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that they say should include all of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including the E-1 zone. Palestinian activists said some protesters were hurt as Israeli authorities forcibly cleared the disputed site. They also vowed to continue their protests against the settlement plan.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the eviction process was completed without anyone being injured. He also said all of the Palestinian protesters were released.

The protesters obtained an Israeli Supreme Court injunction on Friday, preventing Israeli authorities from removing their tent camp in E-1. The Israeli government later declared the site a closed military zone and said the court ruling did not block the removal of the protesters.

Palestinians say the proposed E-1 settlement's location at the center of the West Bank would make it impossible for them to form a state with viable borders and would block Arab access to East Jerusalem. Much of the international community also has criticized the Israeli plan, calling it an obstacle to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli supporters of E-1 say it would not obstruct an independent Palestine's connection to Jerusalem through Arab districts such as Abu Dis. They also say it would not prevent the northern and southern parts of the West Bank from being connected by a corridor at least 15 kilometers wide — about the same as Israel's narrowest waistline between the Mediterranean coast and the West Bank.