Israel’s Supreme Court Okays Demolition of West Bank Village
The United Nations and the European Union among others are asking Israel to halt plans to demolish a Palestinian Bedouin community in the West Bank. For nearly a decade, Israeli courts had prevented the government from carrying on the planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar. Israel accuses the community of not being legally formed. But on Wednesday, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the West Bank village can be demolished without any legal implications.
Palestinians Accuse Israeli Government of Plans to Set Up Jewish Settlement on Their Land
Khan al-Ahmar is a Bedouin village east of Jerusalem. It is situated outside of the Kfar Adumim settlement and comprised largely of corrugated shacks. Nomadic Bedouin goat and sheep herders migrated from the southern Negev desert and settled in the area shortly after Israel won statehood in 1948. The encampment is nestled between two major Israeli settlements and home to almost 200 residents. They manage with irregular power supply and unstable water sources.
Israel has not announced a precise date for the village demolition, but the government has offered to relocate residents to another location 12 kilometers away. Palestinian leaders are however against the planned demolition, accusing the government of a ploy to establish another Israeli settlement in the area. They say the Israeli government is not willing and ready to grant building permits to Palestinians moved to another location.
Supreme Court Judges See No Evidence Justifying Legality of Khan Al-Ahmar Village
Justices of the Israeli Supreme Court maintain that earlier court verdicts proclaiming the village settlement illegal were correct. They said there is no new evidence challenging the verdicts of illegality earlier pronounced by the courts. They therefore say it is okay for the government to demolish Khan al-Ahmar village and resettle its residents somewhere else.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman praised the apex court for being impartial in its ruling, adding people who had been calling for Khan al-Ahmar village to be left untouched are biased and hypocritical.
“No one is above the law. No one can stop us from implementing our sovereignty and responsibility as a state,” Lieberman said.
The West Bank area is divided into three main divisions known as Area A, B and C. Palestinian leaders claim all of the West Bank belongs to them. Khan al-Ahmar village is located in Area C which is home to about 400,000 Israeli settlers and up to 200,000 Palestinians. Palestinian authorities say they need Area C and the entire West Bank for their future state.
Palestinian Authorities Open Schools Earlier To Forestall Israeli Interventions
The Israeli government has not allowed any Palestinian development to take place in Area C, and Jewish settlers who occupied the area have been evicted in some cases. There is an Italian-funded school at the Khan al-Ahmar village encampment. The Palestinian Education Ministry decided to start the school year earlier for students in the area and four other Bedouin communities as a strategy to forestall any Israeli resettlement moves.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ office, the European Union, Israeli leftist groups, and other institutions called on Israel to consider alternative solutions to forcing residents from the Khan al-Ahmar village.