European Parliament could denounce Israel over Khan al-Ahmar

“The demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its residents would constitute a grave breach of international humanitarian law,” the text of the resolution stated.

September 13, 2018 03:48
3 minute read.
Palestinians gesture in front of Israeli forces after the forces removed shacks

Palestinians gesture in front of Israeli forces after the forces removed shacks erected by Palestinian activists to protest against Israel's plan to demolish the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the West Bank September 13, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)


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The European Parliament is set to vote on Thursday on a resolution that condemns Israel for the pending evacuation of the illegally built West Bank Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar, and warning that it set a dangerous precedent for another 46 such communities in Area C.

“The demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its residents would constitute a grave breach of international humanitarian law,” the text of the resolution stated.

The European Union and individual European states have stood in solidarity with Khan al-Ahmar for at least the last decade. Its Tyre elementary school, which would also be razed, was built with European donor funds.

“Ten EU Member States are supporting humanitarian programs in Khan al-Ahmar, including the construction of a primary school, and an estimated 315,000 euros worth of EU-funded humanitarian assistance is now at risk,” the resolution stated.

It called on the EU to more strenuously object to the demolition, including insisting on compensation of the loss of EU-funded structures in Khan al-Ahmar and other such herding villages.

Built on Route 1, just below the Kfar Adumim settlement, Khan al-Ahmar is home to some 180 members of the Jahalin tribe that Israel relocated to the area from the Negev in the early 1950s.

The state wants to relocate the village of tents and shacks to a newly-built neighborhood of Abu Dis, called Jahalin West.

The Khan al-Ahmar residents have objected to the plan because the homes are located near a garbage dump. They want the Civil Administration to approve a master plan for their homes at their current location, or very nearby.

The High Court of Justice last week ruled that there was no legal reason to prevent the village’s relocation, although it urged the IDF to find a peaceful resolution. A High Court injunction preventing the demolition was lifted on Tuesday at midnight.

Palestinian and Bedouin activists have since arrived at the village in advance of the demolition.

Khan al-Ahmar head Eid Jahalin told Army Radio in the morning that the 180 people who live in the village have no intention of leaving of their own volition.

“We are staying here, we are not moving,” Jahalin said.

He noted that there were illegal homes in the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim that the IDF had not removed, but in contrast their homes were slated for demolition.

The community had tried to submit a master plan for the community, but it was rejected, he said.

When asked if the community would respond with violence, he said, “yes.”

Right-wing Israeli politicians who support the demolition hold that the Bedouin community is part of a strategic Palestinian Authority plan to seize hold of critical land in Area C.

The PA and the European Union believe Khan al-Ahmar is in a strategic area vital for a future Palestinian state, and that its demolition would weaken the chance that the territory would be placed in Palestinian hands in any future final status agreement.

At a European Parliament debate on the matter on Tuesday night in Strasbourg, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar, “would also be a blow against the viability of the State of Palestine and against the very possibility of a two-state solution.”

“The EU and its Member States expressed their concerns about the imminent demolition through repeated statements, démarches and ministerial letters to the Israeli authorities, and the representatives of several member states were present at the village on 5 July when the Israeli forces attempted to cordon it off,” she said.

“Until now, these efforts have been to no avail. Israel claims that the community has been built without the required building permits. It is important to note, however, that it is virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain any building permits in Area C of the West Bank, as confirmed by the Quartet report we produced in July 2016,” Mogherini said.

She further charged that Israelis could build in Area C, but Palestinians could not. The pending demolition comes at a time, when “the two-state solution is today under serious threat – more than ever before – and yet there is no realistic and viable alternative that would end the conflict and achieve a just and lasting peace.”

“I am glad that the European Parliament is also asking the Israeli authorities not to implement the decision to demolish and not to strip an entire Palestinian community of their homes and their children of the school. Again, I stress this: this would not be in the interests of Israel itself,” Mogherini said.

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