Thursday, October 01, 2020

Demolition of Khan al Ahmar suspended

By Anna Donati - October 25, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Bedouin] [E1] [demolition] [Settlement Expansion]

On October 21, Israel postponed for "several weeks" the implementation of the demolition order of Bedouin village Khan al Ahmar in the occupied West Bank.

The village in recent months has become emblematic of the opposition to Israeli occupation and colonization.
This decision was made by the Israeli security cabinet "to allow negotiations (with the inhabitants) to lead to a voluntary evacuation" of Khan al-Ahmar, according to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu earlier said he was postponing indefinitely the demolition of the 200-strong village near Jerusalem between two settlements.
"The objective is to give a chance to the negotiations and proposals we have received from different parties, including in recent days, while ensuring that the village would ultimately be destroyed,” he said.
"It's our policy, and it will be put in place. (...) I do not intend to postpone it indefinitely, but for a short and limited period,”  he stated before a meeting in Jerusalem with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
This delay has angered the Prime Minister's allies in his government coalition and increased the skepticism of residents who doubt that a solution can be found amicably.
Israeli authorities accuse the bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar of settling illegally and gave them until October 1 to leave and demolish any constructions.
The fate of this village of sheet metal and canvas has raised the concern of some countries, including eight members of the European Union who called in September for Israel "to reconsider its decision."
The order to leave the village is a result of years of legal battle, after the failure of negotiations on possible displacement.
War crime

Since the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court at the beginning of September to give the go-ahead for the demolition, informal initiatives have emerged to find a compromise, one of the lawyers from the Bedouin community told AFP.
"Our proposals are based on what we told the court, that we are willing to move a few hundred meters further north," said lawyer Tawfik Jabarine, adding that the Israeli government has not yet responded to this offer.

He refused to reveal the identity of the person mediating between the inhabitants and the authorities.

The inhabitants of the Bedouin village reiterated yesterday their intention to stay on their land.
"Our strategy is to stay on our land, and we will not leave," said resident Eid al-Jahalin, adding that the Israeli decision "could change at any time.”
According to another resident, Ibrahim Abu Dahuk, the announced postponement could hide a "ruse" so that the militants defending the village go before the expulsion of the Bedouins and the demolition of their homes.
"We do not trust the Jews," Abu Dahuk said.
Netanyahu's decision angered his two main allies in the government coalition, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying he was against the delay, as did Naftali, the Minister of Education. Bennett. He stressed that the Israeli law must be respected, "even if the international community opposes.”
On Wednesday, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court had warned Israel that "evacuation by force" might be a "war crime.”
For organizations hostile to the Israeli occupation, as well as for the European Union or the UN, the case goes well beyond the village in question.
According to them, the destruction of Khan al Ahmar will open the way for new settlement construction in a strategic area.
This operation would indeed extend and connect large blocks of settlements around Jerusalem.
This would complete the closure of Jerusalem and restrict access for Palestinians from the West Bank to the eastern part of the Holy City, making the creation of a Palestinian state even more hypothetical, according to Bedouin defenders.
Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, the capital of the state they aspire to.

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