Some 300 Palestinian activists descended on a cluster of palm trees and long-abandoned houses north of the Dead Sea on Friday to establish the protest village of ‘Ein Hijleh.’ The aim of the action was to protest demands made by the Israeli government to retain control of the Jordan Valley and other settlements in the midst of current peace negotiations. The action is the first in a campaign of protest villages activists termed ‘Melh Al-Ard’ (Salt of the Earth).
Haaretz reported earlier this month that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “did not intend to uproot any Israeli citizen” from the West Bank and doubled down on his insistence to hold onto the Jordan Valley amid peace talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
According to the Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee, which organized the action in Ein Hijleh:
"Ein Hijleh village is located in what is called “Area C” in the Jordan Valley, which is under threat of annexation by Israeli policies and Kerry’s plan. Therefore, we have decided to take charge and call for a national action to protect the Jordan Valley and put an end to the constant Judaization of Palestinian lands."
Last year, Palestinian activists erected a massive protest village named Bab al-Shams in the E1 area near Jerusalem to protest the threat of Israeli settlements and annexation there. A month later, activists built a shorter-lived protest village named Al-Manatir, near the West Bank village of Burin.