Daily Israel Report

Police Ban Symbolic Construction in Maaleh Adumim

Even symbolic building has been outlawed as Maaleh Adumim officials are told they cannot protest building freeze with a “cornerstone.”
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/6/2009, 6:08 PM

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Police surprised Maaleh Adumim city officials this week by refusing to allow a protest against the government's decision not to permit Jews to build in Judea and Samaria. The protest was deemed illegal because of officials' plans to lay a symbolic “cornerstone” in the Mevaseret Adumim neighborhood, where building has not been approved.

According to police, laying a cornerstone in the area would constitute a violation of the building freeze, but another kind of protest would be permitted.

Police and city officials reached a compromise on Sunday evening according to which demonstrators will be allowed to bury objects in the Mevaseret Adumim area, but will not do anything that resembles building.

Prior to reaching a compromise, Maaleh Adumim officials filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the police decision. Laying a single stone is obviously a symbolic act and not a violation of the building freeze, they argued.

“The police and IDF commanders are aware that construction is impossible without a detailed plan and authorization... it is not clear why they issued this disproportionate, not to mention hysterical, response to a legitimate protest,” city officials said.

Mevaseret Adumim is located west of Maaleh Adumim's current neighborhoods, but within the city limits. It is part of the E-1 corridor between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, where plans are in place to build thousands of housing units. Construction has been postponed for years, except for the Shai district police headquarters, in the wake of Arab claims that Israeli sovereignty would disrupt the continuity of Palestinian Authority localities. The corridor borders on the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Abu-Dis, Al-Azaria, and Anata.

"We will not give in or compromise regarding our right to live here,” said Mayor Benny Kashriel. “It's our right to build here, to raise our children here, and to make it possible for our parents in Jerusalem to come live with us.”

MKs, Ministers to Attend
The Maaleh Adumim protest is scheduled to take place on Monday. Several MKs and ministers plan to attend, among them Minister of National Infrastructure, Uzi Landau and Minister of Science and Technology, Daniel Hershkowitz.

Maaleh Adumim officials said several Likud politicians would take part in the protest, including Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon and MKs Miri Regev, Zeev Elkin, and Tzipi Hotovely.

Landau called Sunday for the government to permit building in Mevaseret Adumim and elsewhere in Judea and Samaria, saying a building freeze “runs counter to natural justice.” Freezing construction as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority, the European Union or the United States will not work, he said.

"After the Bar Ilan speech, when we agreed to establish a Palestinian state, what was the result? The diplomatic pressure on Israel only grew... The Arab and Palestinian refusal to talk only grew,” Landau said.