PA Arabs hoist a PLO flag close to Maale Adum
PA Arabs hoist a PLO flag close to Maale AdumAFP photo

As President Barack Obama began his visit to Israel on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority Arabs once again set up an illegal outpost in the area known as E1.

AFP reported that around 200 PA Arabs erected some 15 tents at E1 to send a "message to Obama to tell him: Obama -- enough with bias and support for Israel," one of the organizers, Abdullah Abu Rahma, said.

Israeli soldiers ordered the Arabs to evacuate the area by 1800 GMT, warning they would otherwise be ejected by force, Abu Rahma told AFP, adding that a "closed military zone" had been declared.

Wednesday’s action marks the fourth attempt in recent months by Arabs to establish facts on the ground and set up an illegal outpost near Jerusalem or in Judea and Samaria.

Last month the IDF was able to foil an attempt by some 30 Arabs to set up an illegal outpost at the community of Havat Maon, near Hevron.

IDF soldiers, who were deployed in the area ahead of time, were able to evacuate the illegal outpost quickly.

A week earlier, about 200 Arabs set up an illegal outpost near the village of Burin, not far from Shechem, in Samaria.

They had put up a tent when the IDF arrived on the scene and dispersed them. The Arabs attacked the IDF force with rocks, and the soldiers responded with riot dispersal gear. No one was reported hurt.

Before that an outpost was established near the PA Arab village of Beit Iksa, located between the Ramot and Mevasseret Zion neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

The Arabs said that the reason for the outpost is the fact that Beit Iksa is set to be entirely encircled by Israel's border fence, cutting it off from Jerusalem.

Wednesday’s action was an Arab attempt to protest a recent Israeli decision to build new homes in E1, which connects between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim.

Israel approved construction in the E1 area after the Palestinian Authority was recognized by the United Nations as a non-member observer state, in a unilateral move by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in violation of the Oslo Accords.

The E1 project won approval from then Defense Minister Ehud Barak, but at the same time it was also recently reported that Netanyahu was delaying sending it onward to a planning committee, essentially shelving the project.

"Our message today to Obama is... this is our land and we are opposed to settlements and occupation which are backed by the U.S. administration," Abu Rahma told AFP on Wednesday.

Obama arrived for his first visit as president to Israel earlier Wednesday, vowing an "eternal" alliance with the Jewish state and saying that "peace must come to the Holy Land."

On Thursday, Obama travels to Ramallah to meet Abbas, and on Friday he will tour the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.