JABAL AL BABA, December 21, 2017 (WAFA) —Political and religious leaders attended on Tuesday a solidarity event in the endangered Bedouin community of Jabal al Baba, east of Jerusalem, during which a Christmas tree was lit.
The community is at imminent risk of forced displacement after the so called "Israeli Civil Administration," an arm of the occupation authority, ordered all of the community’s 320 Palestinian residents on November 9 to evacuate their homes ahead of the demolition of their homes and structures, despite ongoing court proceedings.
Israel wants to take over the land located in the occupied West Bank to build a new settlement on it.
The Prime Minister’s office coordinated the event, which was attended by Adnan Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Walid Assaf, Minister of Anti Wall and Settlements, Atalla Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia, Rev. Jamal Khader, Latin Patriarchate, Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, the PLO Negotiations Support Unit, and a number of diplomats and representatives of various Bedouin communities.
During the opening ceremony, Minister Husseini reiterated the importance of celebrating Christmas during the latest developments in Jerusalem and noted that US President Donald Trump “wanted us to refrain from celebrating Christmas but despite of his decision we tell him that we will celebrate in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jabal al Baba and everywhere because we are ambassadors of peace."
Husseini was referring to Trump’s decision on December 6 in which he recognized Jerusalem as capital of Israel, thus breaking away from long standing international stand considering Jerusalem as occupied territory and its final status should be determined through negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. The decision poisoned the atmosphere and dampened the joyous feelings of Christmas in the Holy Land, particularly at Christ’s birthplace, Bethlehem.
"President Trump has no right to turn the indigenous Palestinian people of Jerusalem into guests in their land and the Christmas tree that we are lighting is deeply rooted in our land...same as our people," said Archbishop Hanna: "Palestinian churches reject the United States decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
The event concluded with the lighting of a Christmas tree.
Part of the land where the community resides belongs to the Catholic Church; the residents live there with the Church‘s permission. The mountain was renamed "Jabal al Baba" in 1964, when Pope Paul VI visited the West Bank, then under temporary Jordanian rule, and the late King Hussein gave him 170 dunums of land in the area to build a church.
Jabal al Baba is one of 46 Palestinian Bedouin herding communities, comprising over 7,000 residents, the majority of which are refugees, the Israeli government is seeking to relocate to one of three designated sites by the occupation, in order to go forward with the "E1" plan, which entails the construction of thousands of additional settlement units in an area between East Jerusalem and the illegal settlement of Maale Adumim, where several of these Bedouin communities are currently located.
If implemented, the "E1 plan" will not only physically isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, but would also create a contiguous series of illegal settlements stretching from East Jerusalem to the Jordanian border, thereby dividing the West Bank into two parts and rendering the viability of a Palestinian state virtually impossible. The plan has been strongly opposed by the international community.
Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah warned on November 26 that "if the Israeli authorities proceed with this demolition, or with the displacement of entire Palestinian communities in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, a red line will have been crossed."
It is worth mentioning that the 21st of December mark the first year anniversary since passing Resolution 2334 illegalizing settlements. The Prime Minister has called upon the international community including Security Council member states to abide by their ethical and legal obligations.
The community is located entirely in Area C of the West Bank, less than 500 meters from Al Ezariya, East Jerusalem, and surrounded by the Maale Adumim illegal settlement and bypass roads number 417 and number 1, while the Separation Wall surrounds the community.