Israel’s High Court of Justice, the Supreme Court when ruling as a court of first instance, denied a petition on Wednesday, September 5, that had been filed by the residents of the occupied West Bank Arab-Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar. In doing so, the top court gave the state the green light to evacuate the entire village, an act which had been slated to take place last month before the eviction was halted by the court to consider the petitions.
Khan al-Ahmar’s attorney Tawfiq Jabareen said that all legal appeals had been exhausted because the High Court lacked the courage to buck the will of the far-right government. “Now we are facing a new period [in which] the Israeli High Court has concluded its role. In the past the High Court intervened in some of the cases for the benefit of the Palestinians. I do not think that [now] the Palestinians will any longer submit petitions hoping that maybe the Israeli court will make justice work,” Jabareen said.
Following the ruling, Defense Ministry Avigdor Lieberman wrote: “Khan al-Ahmar will be evicted! I commend the high court justices for a brave and necessary decision in the face of the hypocritical attacks orchestrated by Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas], the Left and European countries.”
Reacting to the court’s decision, Joint List Knesset member Dov Khenin (Hadash) called it “a major injustice that should outrage any person of conscience.” He noted that the residents of Khan al-Ahmar had relocated to the site after being expelled in the 1950s from the Negev, “and now they are facing forced expulsion again.”
Khenin said the expulsion is also an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. “A major and dangerous annexation plan designed to create a continuous string of settlements from Jerusalem to Jericho, to cut to West Bank in two, preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, to prevent the possibility of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace is behind the demolition.” Joint List Chairman, MK Aymen Odeh (Hadash), said that the decision “will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state altogether, as well as destroying the possibility of peace.”
Demolishing the village of Khan al-Ahmar, located east of Jerusalem, is blatant ethnic cleansing, said Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday. “The inhumane and immoral decision by Israel’s High Court of Justice to green light the destruction of the village of Khan al-Ahmar located near occupied Jerusalem reveals Israel’s intent to erase and eradicate the Palestinian presence and continuity on the land,” Ashrawi said in a statement.
Ashrawi stressed that the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its roughly 200 residents, many of whom are children, “set a dangerous legal precedent for the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, thereby giving clear license to the extremist settlers to embark on a land grab in the occupied West Bank with impunity.”
She said, “Such a process of displacement, destruction and oppression has been ongoing for seventy years as the world remains silent and reluctant to impose sanctions against Israel.” Ashrawi sent an urgent appeal to all members of the international community to stop the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar immediately. “We also urge the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the ICC [the International Criminal Court] to convene and guarantee protection for the Palestinian people and accountability for Israel,” concluded Ashrawi.
UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov tweeted Wednesday that “Demolitions undermine prospect for two state solution and are against international law.”
Related: Posts on Khan a-Ahmar