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Theresa May calls on Israel not to demolish illegally built village in West Bank

British Prime Minister Theresa May called the planned demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank by the Israeli authorities a “major blow for the prospects of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital with the Palestinians.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May, June 6, 2018. Credit: Haim Zach/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May, June 6, 2018. Credit: Haim Zach/GPO.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called the planned demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank by the Israeli authorities “a major blow for the prospects of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital with the Palestinians.”

During Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, she said: “I once again call on the Israeli government not to go ahead with the demolition of the village, including its school, and displacing its residents.”

May said that Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, met with last week the Israeli ambassador to discuss the issue.

Israel says Khan al-Ahmar was built illegally on Route 1, just below the Kfar Adumim settlement.

It is  home to some 180 members of the Jahalin tribe that Israel relocated to the area from the Negev in the early 1950s. The state wants to relocate the village of tents and shacks to a newly built neighborhood of Abu Dis, called Jahalin West. Khan al-Ahmar residents have objected to the plan because the homes are located near a garbage dump. They want the Civil Administration to approve a master plan for their homes at their current location, or very nearby.

The High Court of Justice ruled that there was no legal reason to prevent the village’s relocation, although it urged the Israel Defense Forces to find a peaceful resolution.

The Bedouin settlement is located in the so-called Area C of the West Bank, in close proximity to a busy highway, putting the residents and particularly children at great risk. Under the Oslo Accords, signed by the European Union as a witness, Israelis and Palestinians agreed in this binding international agreement that Israel would retain full security and civilian control in Area C.

The E.U. has warned that by demolishing Khan al-Ahmar, Israel would undermine the “prospects for peace,” as well as the possibility of achieving a two-state solution.

“The E.U. and its Member States have repeatedly stated their long-standing position on Israel’s settlement policy, illegal under international law, and actions taken in that context, including the demolitions of Palestinian communities and (possible) forced transfers of population. The community of Khan al-Ahmar is located in a sensitive location in Area C, of strategic importance for preserving the contiguity of a future Palestinian state.”

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