Israel’s Top Court Clears Way for Razing of Bedouin Village in West Bank
Israel’s top court cleared the way on Wednesday for the demolition of a Bedouin village in the West Bank whose fate has become a focus of Palestinian protests and international concern.
The Supreme Court, in a decision released by a court spokesman, rejected petitions against the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and said a temporary injunction that had put a hold on the move would lapse in a week.
Around 180 Bedouin, raising sheep and goats, live in tin and wood shacks in Khan al-Ahmar. It is outside Jerusalem between two Israeli settlements and was built without Israeli permits, which Palestinians say are impossible to obtain.
Israel said it plans to relocate the residents to an area about 12 kilometers (seven miles) away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis.
But the new site is next to a landfill, and rights advocates say that a forcible transfer of the residents would violate international law applying to occupied territory.
The European Union had publicly urged Israel to cancel the evacuation plan.
Feisal Abu Dahouk, a resident of Khan Al-Ahmar called the court’s ruling “a racist decision,” telling Reuters by telephone “there is no place we can go.”
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman hailed the decision.
“Khan al-Ammar will be evacuated! I congratulate the Supreme Court justices on their brave and called-for decision, in the face of the orchestrated hypocrisy of Abu Mazen (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas), the left and European states,” Lieberman wrote on Twitter.
Ayman Odeh, head of the United Arab List in Israel’s parliament, said on Twitter the villagers had “fallen victim to the destructive policies of a rightist government that is broadening settlement blocs at the cost of Arab communities.”
Most countries consider settlements built by Israel on land it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War as illegal, and an obstacle to peace. They say they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians seek for a viable state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Israel disputes this and cites biblical, historical and political connections to the land, as well as security needs.