EU: Israel should halt ‘forced transfer’ of Khan al-Ahmar

Khan al-Ahmar was illegally built on state land. Its pending demolition has garnered international attention.

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July 19, 2018 01:05
3 minute read.

Protests erupt at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar that Israel plans to demolish, July 4, 2018 (Reuters)

Protests erupt at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar that Israel plans to demolish, July 4, 2018 (Reuters)

 
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The European Union expects Israel to reconsider its decision to relocate the West Bank Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday.

“The developments in the Palestinian community of Khan al-Ahmar (Abu al-Helu) in the occupied West Bank continue to have our full attention,” Mogherini said.

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IDF demolitions of illegal modular Palestinian and Bedouin structures in the West Bank, including those funded by the EU, have been a source of tension between the 28 European member states and Israel. The EU has also expressed its dismay that Israel has granted only a few building permits for Palestinians and Bedouin in Area C of the West Bank.

Khan al-Ahmar was illegally built on state land. Its pending demolition has garnered international attention.

Mogherini’s statement Wednesday is the second one the EU has issued on the matter just this month.

“The EU Foreign Affairs Council has systematically highlighted the plight of Bedouin communities, including the risk of forced transfer from the wider E1 area,” Mogherini said.

“The consequences of a demolition of this community and the displacement of its residents, including children, against their will, would be very serious,” Mogherini said.

The herding village, which is made up of tents and shacks, is located on the edge of Route 1, near the Kfar Adumim settlement and near the unbuilt E1 area of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Mogherini said that the area is of strategic importance for a future Palestinian state. Settlement building in that area, she said, is “illegal under international law” and “would severely threaten the vitality of the two-state solution.

“The European Union expects the Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar,” Mogherini said.

Israel wants to relocate the Khan al-Ahmar residents, who are members of the Jahalin tribe, to the newly built Jahalin West neighborhood of the nearby Palestinian town of Abu Dis.

The High Court of Justice, which had previously authorized the demolition of the village, has agreed to hold another hearing on the matter on August 1.

No action will be taken against the village until then.

Israeli right-wing politicians and activists have pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to act against the homes.

They have argued that it is discriminatory for the IDF to tear down illegal settler homes, such as the ones in Amona and Netiv Ha’avot, while ignoring illegal Palestinian and Bedouin structures.

A senior diplomatic official said last week that the government has not backed down from evacuating the site, saying that Liberman issued an evacuation order, but that this was held up by an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We are not hesitating to act” against the outpost, the official said, adding that the same Supreme Court that at first approved the evacuation is now holding it up.

Another senior official said that those who are protesting and fighting the eviction want the Bedouin to continue living in poor conditions.

“There is a small number of people who are living in bad conditions, along a main road. Israel built a school, and wants to move them to a place that will make their lives easier, but nobody speaks about this. Rather, there are those both abroad and in Israel who want to ensure the continuation of their suffering and the dayto- day danger to their children.”

According to the official, the site will eventually be evacuated. “It is better for them and for us, but first and foremost for them,” he said.

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