France bashed Israel on Monday for planning to demolish the illegal Beduin herding village of Al-Khan al-Ahmar, possibly as early as next week.The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement about the matter just one day after the Civil Administration issued demolition orders against all the structures in the unrecognized Beduin village of tents and shacks between the settlements of Ma’aleh Adumim and Kfar Adumim.“These demolition orders pose an imminent threat against an already vulnerable Palestinian community,” the French Foreign Ministry said, adding that it is “concerned.”The village’s attorney, Shlomo Lecker, said on Monday that 44 demolition orders had been issued and the 35 families in Al-Khan al-Ahmar were given seven days to leave their homes. He is planning to petition against the decision in the High Court of Justice, after failing to dissuade the Civil Administration when the demolition orders were issued last month.The office of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that a hearing on the matter was held last Thursday.“A hearing was held by a supervising subcommittee regarding the illegal structures in Al-Khan al-Ahmar. Following a thorough inspection by the professional officials and taking the owners’ claims into consideration, the committee decided to serve warrants to perform enforcement on the illegal sites,” COGAT said.Lecker said that the demolition orders do not include the small regional school in the village, which is already the subject of a High Court petition.
A decision on the school is unlikely to be issued before the end of the school year.Village spokesman Eid Khamis said that no one in the community knows what will happen next. “The decision to demolish our homes will put an end to our lives here. Where will we sleep? What will we do?” Khamis said, adding that the families have no option but to stay where they are. “Israel has not offered for us to go somewhere else. We hope European and international pressure will compel Israel to change its decision. That is our only hope,” he said, adding that he has no faith in the ability of the Israeli legal system to save them.The United Nations, the European Union and the Palestinian Authority have all called on Israel not to destroy the village and the school. Last week, the EU heads of mission from Jerusalem and Ramallah, as well as the PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, visited the school and the village, which is located in Area C of the West Bank.“We call upon the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government in order to safeguard our citizens’ rights of education and livelihood,” Hamdallah said.He warned that under the Rome Statute, the forced demolition of the village could be considered a war crime.Hamdallah added that he believes the demolition of the village is part of an Israeli plan to advance construction plans in the E1 area of Ma’aleh Adumim. The village is located on the edge of E1, where the Palestinian Authority has objected to Israeli construction, arguing that it would make their future state unviable.In its statement to the media, the French Foreign Ministry said it agrees with that assessment, claiming that the E1 corridor is of “strategic importance for the two-state solution and the contiguity of a future Palestinian state.”It added that it reaffirmed its commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the only option to address the legitimate needs of both parties, as had been determined by the December UN Security Council Resolution 2334 against settlement activity.
Protest following Beduin Village demolition (Courtesy)