Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein appealed to the High Court late Saturday for permission to tear down a Palestinian outpost in the West Bank, saying keeping the makeshift village up could lead to disorder with wide-ranging consequences.
Weinstein’s request came on the heels of a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for the court to overturn an injunction allowing the small tent village, built on the controversial E1 strip of land East of Jerusalem, to stand.
“The raising of the tents in the compound, especially given their location, is designed to bring protests and riots with national and international implications,” Weinstein said in his appeal on behalf of the state.
The appeal cites “current intelligence,” according to a report on Hebrew news site Ynet.
Some 200 Palestinian activists erected tents in the area on Friday saying they wanted to stop Israeli construction in the West Bank.
The 25-strong tent city, called Bab el-Shams, or The Gate of the Sun, was set up in protest of the Israeli government’s announcement in November of plans to build housing in the disputed area, a move that some critics say will preclude the possibility of a territorially contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank.
The court ordered the demolition stopped Saturday night, citing four Palestinian families claims that they owned the land. The army has declared the area a closed military zone in an attempt to keep protesters from entering the area. Roads near the area have also been closed to prevent protests.
The IDF is also reportedly keeping journalists from entering the outpost, saying the order comes from the political echelon, according to Ynet.
Osnat Mandel, a senior official in the state attorney’s office, told the court the tents would not be removed until the state checked out the ownership of every parcel of land, but the order to do so must be given quickly.
“An urgent evacuation is needed because of urgent security concerns and to stop serious harm from being done to the public order,” she wrote.
MK Uri Ariel, from the far right National Union party, visited the outpost Saturday night and called on the military to raze the “provocation,” while also taking a pre-election jab at Netanyahu.
“If the prime minister stood behind his promises to build right away four years ago, we wouldn’t be in this sad situation now,” he said, according to Arutz Sheva.
Ariel is Number 2 in the merged Jewish Home-National Union slate, which has been gaining support largely at the expense of Netanyahu’s Likud party.
The organizers of the Palestinian outpost say their actions are not symbolic. Rather, they seek to change the rules of the game and create “facts on the ground” that they claim as theirs.
The activists were borrowing a phrase and a tactic usually associated with Jewish settlers, who believe establishing communities means the territory will remain Israeli.
“We are building the village because we cannot remain silent any longer about the continuing settlement construction and theft of our land, and because we believe in direct action and nationalistic opposition for obtaining our objectives,” an organizer was quoted by Walla saying. Organizers added that they would not leave the premises until the Palestinian owners of the property received their full rights to it.
Ilan Ben Zion and Michal Shmulovich contributed to this report.