Netanyahu: “It Would Certainly Help” My Vote Standing if Khan al-Ahmar Were Razed Before Election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of journalists on Tuesday, February 12, that “it would certainly help” his standing with certain far-right and settlers voters him if the Arab-Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied Palestinian territories were to be demolished before the April elections.

Toward the end of a meeting with a group of right-wing religious Jewish journalists, Netanyahu was pressed as to why the government was not moving forward with the razing of the central West Bank Palestinian village after the Supreme Court gave a green-light to the measure in May of last year

“I said that Khan al-Ahmar would be evacuated, so it will be evacuated,” the prime minister responded, in a quote first reported by the Kan public broadcaster. Netanyahu added that he hoped “the evacuation will happen before the elections. It would certainly help.”

Following international protests, in October Netanyahu’s office announced that the planned evacuation would be delayed indefinitely amidst new talks between the government and the ramshackle village’s residents. The decision to delay came after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit warned ministers that a forced evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar could compromise the Israeli position vis-à-vis Palestinian claims at the International Criminal Court

On the same day as his meeting with the journalists, rhw Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that bulldozers belonging to the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem demolished three Palestinian-owned housing structures and a warehouse in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Jabal al-Mukabbir without prior notice. In Silwan, Jamal Dkeik told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers demolished two apartments and a warehouse; Dkeik’s son was supposed to move into one of the apartments this coming April, while the second apartment was still under construction.

Meanwhile in Jabal al-Mukabbir, Israeli bulldozers demolished a 130-square-meter house, belonging to Firyal Jaabis, who was living in the house along with her children. Ali Jaabis, a relative of Firyal, told Ma’an that bulldozers escorted by Israeli forces surrounded the house, evacuated it and demolished it, again without having given any prior notice. The house’s construction had been completed a year and a-half ago.

Israel uses the pretext of construction without a permit to carry out demolitions of Palestinian-owned homes on a regular basis, both in the occupied territories as well as within Israel proper.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in occupied East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has maintained that, compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities which, they contend, also see a high approval ratings.

For Jewish Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem’s illegal settlements, the planning, marketing, development, and infrastructure are funded and executed by the Israeli government. In stark contrast to this, in Palestinian neighborhoods, the entire burden falls on individual families who face a lengthy process to obtain approval that can last several years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Israeli bulldozers also demolished an 80-square-meter (860-square-foot) Palestinian home, on Wednesday, February 13, near the Israeli separation wall in the Bir Ouna neighborhood of the city of Beit Jala in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Beit Jala falls within Area C, under complete Israeli military control according to the Oslo Accords. Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally.

Muhammad Mousa Zreineh, the owner of the demolished home, said that Israeli forces raided the home and physically assaulted members of his family before proceeding to demolish the entire structure. Zreineh confirmed that the demolition was carried out under the pretext that it was built without the required permit from Israel, something which, he asserted, is nearly impossible to obtain. Zreineh told reporters that this was the second time his entire family has been displaced, Israeli forces having previously demolished his home in 2016.

According to Palestinians and human rights groups, Israel’s overall goal, both in its policies in Area C and Israel’s settlement enterprise, is to depopulate the land of its Palestinian residents.

Related: Posts on Khan al-Ahmar