Israel may allow Khan al-Ahmar to remain in E1 area; Right fumes

Another Bedouin encampment already exists on that side of the road that belongs to a Jahalin clan other than the Abu-Dahuk tribe in Khan al-Ahmar.

THE BEDOUIN village Khan al-Ahmar (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
THE BEDOUIN village Khan al-Ahmar
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

The state might allow the illegal Palestinian Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar to remain in the area between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jericho, according to a report by Channel 12 that has angered the Right.

The fate of the small 180 Jahalin Bedouin community has become intertwined with that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Right has called to raze Khan al-Ahmar while the Left has supported its continued presence on the side of Route 1, not far from Kfar Adumim.

At issue is control of the critical Route 1 corridor in the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians believe is part of its future state and which the Right wants to see included within Israel’s final borders.

The community’s location is not far from a major development planned for Ma’aleh Adumim on that same side of the road, known as E1, which has also entwined its fate with that project.

PALESTINIANS PROTESTING at Khan Al-Ahmar (credit: REUTERS)PALESTINIANS PROTESTING at Khan Al-Ahmar (credit: REUTERS)

The state plan to relocate Khan al-Ahmar 300 meters (approximately 1,000 feet) to the opposite side of Route 1, below the built-up area of Ma’aleh Adumim in the direction of the Dead Sea, entrenching the community in an area that the Right would like to see cleared of any Bedouin to allow for expanded Jewish development.

Another Bedouin encampment already exists on that side of the road that belongs to a different Jahalin clan than the Abu-Dahuk tribe in Khan al-Ahmar.

The community’s spokesman, Eid Abu Khamis, said that no one has spoken with the residents, and that there had been no agreement to adhere to it.

Any report that those in Khan al-Ahmar have agreed to this relocation “is a lie,” he said.

The Abu-Dahuk clan originally lived in the Negev, but Israel exiled them into the West Bank in the early 1950s, when that territory was ruled by Jordan.

They settled in the area of their current location in the 1970s but never received authorization for their community. The Civil Administration has rejected multiple master plans to legalize Khan al-Ahmar.

The Right, including the NGO Regavim, began an active campaign 12 years ago to remove them.

The High Court of Justice has previously upheld the right of the state to demolish the herding village, but has not forced the state to do so.

Regavim petitioned the High Court in 2019 to force the state to evacuate the encampment.

The state is expected to submit its response to the court on March 6, the first time Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government will issue a statement on the issue. The coalition itself is divided, with Bennett and his Yamina Party having previously called for its removal from the area.

“There is no red line [that this government] will not cross,” tweeted Religious Zionist Party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich. “There is no principle that it will not sell out for the sake of its political survival. The authorization of Khan al-Ahmar in the strategic space between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea is no longer just a violation of Bennett and Shaked’s election promise, but a national, Zionist and strategic security fiasco that will fatally harm Israel’s sovereignty.”

Regavim director-general Meir Deutsch warned that “this harebrained scheme hatched by the Defense Ministry will turn the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in Judea and Samaria into a permanent, recognized Palestinian settlement. The PA targeted this point on the map precisely because of its critical strategic value as the link between Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho – an area where there is no Palestinian Arab presence. Enabling the takeover and de facto annexation of this strategic location will be a fiasco for the security and strategic integrity of the State of Israel.”

The international community, particularly the European Union, has pressured Israel to authorize Khan al-Ahmar. The International Criminal Court’s former chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, warned in 2018 that the forced relocation of Khan al-Ahmar could be considered a war crime.