Photo Credit: Ron Almog / Wikimedia
Jerusalem's Hebrew University as seen from nearby Ma'ale Adumim.

The High Court of Justice has reiterated its prohibited on carrying out the demolition of illegal Bedouin homes in the Ma’aleh Adumim area, a.k.a. Area E1. But according to the Bedouin, the IDF Civil Administration is threatening to demolish those illegal homes anyway. At least that’s how a report in Ha’aretz put it on Sunday, based on the legal battle being waged by the Bedouin of Jabal Baba and Bir al-Maskov.

Area E1 is, probably, the most important stretch of land in all of Judea and Samaria, and its future—as an Israeli or an Arab settlement—will determine the future of the two-state solution.

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Nestled within the municipal boundary of the Israeli town of Ma’ale Adumim, E1 is adjacent to the northeastern part of eastern Jerusalem and to the western part of Ma’ale Adumim. It covers an area of only 4.6 square miles, but because that stretch is at the narrowest point of the peanut-shaped “west bank,” it could either create a contiguous Israeli territory across a future Palestinian State, making such a state difficult to control, or it could become an Arab settlement, thus burying Israeli dreams of ever annexing a contiguous block of settlements.

Aware of these two options, the Palestinian Authority, aided by the European Union, has been pushing an entirely illegal settlement effort by a number of Bedouin communities and their livestock, as well as the PA sponsored tent site of Bab al Shams, which was established in early 2013, and is being re-established and re-toppled every once in a while.

In September 2014 the IDF Civil Administration announced its plan to remove the E1 Bedouin, forcibly if necessary, to a new area in the Jordan Valley north of Jericho, and to demolish whatever illegal structures they have erected during their very short and largely staged history at those sites. But the Bedouin, aided by a battery of NGO-financed attorneys, have been appealing that decision with considerable support from Israel’s High Court of Justice.

In February, the High Court of Justice approved, in two separate judgments, a kind of compromise agreement, according to which the Bedouin would apply to the Civil Administration to “ascertain whether their issue can be arranged, and if the demolition and eviction orders can be postponed until after the arrangement.” Should an arrangement not be reached, the Bedouin would be given a 30-day warning ahead of the demolition.

But according to the Civil Administration, the Bedouin have been dragging their feet intentionally ever since that court ruling, and failing to provide crucial documentation regarding their assets, including their herds of goats and sheep. A spokesman for the Civil Administration told Ha’aretz the Bedouin’s delay tactics which used to be clandestine and smarmy are now blatant.

Which is why the Bedouin have been told to provide the missing information or risk immediate demolition and eviction, without warning.

That drove the Bedouin legal team into a panic and on Thursday they appealed to the High Court to block the demolitions on the grounds of… contempt of court. This from the most brazen practitioners of contempt of court in Israeli real estate history.

The judges – Esther Hayut, Uzi Fogelman and Daphne Barak-Erez – favored the Bedouin cause for now, and ordered the Civil Administration to show up in court by September 3 to respond to the claims of contempt. The Civil Administration is barred, until then, from touching the historic Bedouin settlement (since circa 2010).

Incidentally, a statement issued in response by the Civil Administration said that the reason the Bedouin gave for failing to provide the requested documentation was that “petitioners are absolved from submitting the entirety of the forms required for the discussion of their appeal.”

Now, that’s some legal team!

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