The group released the following statement:
We, the sons and daughters of Palestine from all throughout the land, announce the establishment of Bab Alshams Village (Gate of the Sun). We the people, without permits from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it.
A few months ago the Israeli government announced its intention to build about 4000 settlement housing units in the area Israel refers to as E1. E1 block is an area of about 13 square km that falls on confiscated Palestinian land East of Jerusalem between Ma’ale Adumim settlement, which lies on occupied West Bank Palestinian land, and Jerusalem. We will not remain silent as settlement expansion and confiscation of our land continues. Therefore we hereby establish the village of Bab Alshams to proclaim our faith in direct action and popular resistance. We declare that the village will stand steadfast until the owners of this land will get their right to build on their land.
The village’s name is taken from the novel, “Bab Alshams,” by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury. The book depicts the history of Palestine through a love story between a Palestinian man, Younis, and his wife Nahila. Younis leaves his wife to join the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon while Nahila remains steadfast in what remains of their village in the Galilee. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Younis smuggles through Lebanon and back to the Galilee to meet his wife in the “Bab Alshams” cave, where she gives birth to their children. Younis returns to the resistance in Lebanon as his wife remains in Bab Al Shams.
Bab Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem. Bab Alshams is the gate to our to our return.
For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the International community remained silent in response to these violations. The time has come now to change the rules of the game, for us to establish facts on the ground - our own land. This action involving women and men from the north to the south is a form of popular resistance. In the coming days we will hold various discussion groups, educational and artistic presentations, as well as film screenings on the lands of this village. The residents of Bab Al Shams invite all the sons and daughters of our people to participate and join the village in supporting our resilience.
By Ir Amim
E1 (derived from “East 1”) is a term applied by the Ministry of Housing to an area located just east of the Jerusalem municipal boundary, on the hills between Ma’aleh Adummim and Jerusalem. It lies north of the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adummim road and edges the Palestinian towns of Anata, Abu Dis, Azariya and A-Zayim. E1, which covers some 12,000 dunams (12 sq. kilometers), is part of the planning area of Ma’aleh Adummim. The main artery between the northern and southern West Bank runs through E1.
In recent years, Israel has begun building and settling the area. The development plan for E1 includes the transfer of the West Bank (Judea & Samaria) Police Headquarters from its present location, and the construction of at least 3,500 residential units, a large commercial center, and more. Plans for the E1 area make no reference whatsoever to the local Palestinian population.
Construction in the E1 area commenced in 2004 under the direction of Housing Minister Efi Eitam. The work was illegal because no building permit had been issued. As a result of international pressure, construction was halted a short time after it began.
At the beginning of 2005, the Ma’aleh Adummim municipality approved two detailed urban plans for the development of the area, as mentioned above: one for approximately 3,500 housing units (apartment buildings and villas), and the second for the transfer of the police headquarters. The plan generated harsh criticism from the American government and the European Union. Both demanded that the plan be frozen, on the grounds that it violated Israel’s commitments according to the ‘Road Map.’ Instead, they maintained that the future of this territory be decided upon by a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Following this pressure, the Israeli government froze the project in 2004. However, building of the police headquarters was continued on the grounds that, like army bases, the police station would not be seen as creating facts on the ground, but rather as a building that could be removed.
On November 2012, following the Palestinian statehood bid, the Netanyahu government announced that it will promote a zoning plan for E1 which will allow the construction of 3000 housing units for Jews.
Here is the planned construction area for E1:
As can be seen in this regional map, construction at E1 will cut the West Bank in two (the area to the east is a desert, and on a very different altitude).
Ir Amim (“City of Nations” or “City of Peoples”) is an NGO which focuses on Jerusalem within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ir Amim seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city for the Israelis and Palestinians who share it. The above text and the maps appear here with the permission of Ir Amim.