US President Joe Biden will land in Israel on July 13, the same day the state is due to report to the High Court of Justice on its plans to evict the West Bank Bedouin herding village of Khan al-Ahmar.
Biden will head from Israel to Saudi Arabia on July 14, prior to the July 18 Civil Administration hearing on a 3,414-unit housing plan for the E1 section of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
The United States, along with the international community, has opposed both of those plans as they do all instances of Palestinian evictions and settler housing plans.
Right-wing politicians and settler leaders have pushed the government to take action on both issues despite international pressure.
On Sunday, the right-wing NGO Regavim, which petitioned the High Court against Khan al-Ahmar already back in 2009, headed to the area of the herding village of some 180 members of the Abu Dahuk clan, which belongs to the Jahalin tribe.
Together with Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz they warned that on July 13 the state intended to tell the court that it would relocate Khan al-Ahmar a mere 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) away, from one side of Route 1 to the other.
At present, Khan al-Ahmar is sandwiched between the E1 area and the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim, where settler development is slated to continue.
Right-wing politicians want the IDF to remove the illegally built village and relocate it to a section of Abu Dis located in Area C of the West Bank that is situated between a landfill and a road. The Khan al-Ahmar community has rejected that plan and insists that it wants to remain either in its current location on the edge of Route 1 or very close to it. It’s unclear if it would accept an IDF relocation plan to the other side of Route 1.
Ganz warned that it is dangerous for Israeli drivers to have the village on either side of the road.
"There won't be an Arab community here that will control Route 1 and pose a danger to Israel."Israel Ganz
“There won’t be an Arab community here that will control Route 1 and pose a danger to Israel,” Ganz said.
“The solution for these residents is in Abu Dis,” Ganz said as he stood on a sandy hilltop where he believes the state wants to relocate Khan al-Ahmar.
“The state has invested [in Abu Dis] and built plots costing tens of millions,” Ganz said.
THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY is pressuring Khan al-Ahmar residents to remain where they are so that it can maintain a hold on this area, said Ganz. “The government must not lend a hand to the takeover plan. That could not happen.”
Ganz added that the “establishment of an Arab settlement here will interrupt the Jewish continuity” in this region and “create a buffer between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley.” .
The Abu Dahuk clan had originally lived in the Negev. According to Kahn al-Ahmar community spokesman Eid Abu Khamis, there are documents proving the Jahalin connection to the land there. Israel exiled them to the West Bank in the 1950s when the land was part of Jordan. Israel captured that territory during the Six Day War in 1967. The Abu Dahuk clan illegally settled in the area of Khan al-Ahmar in the 1970s. The Civil Administration has rejected the community’s attempt to retroactively seek a permit.
Few such permits are ever granted. The High Court has already ruled that the community’s tents and hunts can be removed, but the International Criminal Court’s former chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has warned that such an action would be a war crime.
MK Simha Rotman (Religious Zionist Party) visited the Abu Dis site on Sunday and said that he had asked the Knesset to hold a debate on the state’s failure to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar. He noted that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had all promised to relocate the village but had never made good on their word.
The state in March had asked for a delay in any action because of Bennett’s role in attempting to negotiate peace between Russia and Ukraine. There is no peace and nothing has happened with Khan al-Ahmar, Rotman said.
At issue is a land battle between Israel and the PA for control of a strategic corridor that links Jerusalem with the Jordan Valley. Both and the PA believe that the area should be within the final boundaries of their state.
The Biden administration has asked Israel not to take any provocative measures in advance of Biden’s visit. However, it has also persistently asked it not to demolish illegal Palestinian structures or to advance settlement plans, particularly E1.
On Friday, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington, “We have consistently delivered a message, both in public and in private, that encourages both sides, Israeli and Palestinians, to avoid steps that only serve to exacerbate tensions and potentially move us even further away from the prospect of a two-state solution.”