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Israeli government again asks court for delay in demolishing Khan al-Ahmar

The legal battle over the illegal Bedouin village began in 2009, when NGO Regavim filed its first petition against “the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in the systematic takeover of Area C” of Judea and Samaria.

The illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, on Highway 1 between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Photo by Josh Hasten.
The illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, on Highway 1 between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Photo by Josh Hasten.

The Israeli government on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court for a four-month extension for submitting its response to a ruling demanding the implementation of demolition orders against the illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.

It is the ninth time the state has requested a postponement.

The legal battle over the issue began in 2009, when Israeli NGO Regavim filed its first petition against what it called “the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in the systematic takeover of Area C” of Judea and Samaria. The encampment is built on state land belonging to the city of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

While the Supreme Court has rejected the residents’ appeal and upheld lower courts’ rulings ordering Khan al-Ahmar be evacuated, previous governments, including those led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have asked for and received deferments. The current deadline for the government to present a detailed plan for the evacuation was Feb. 1.

Meir Deutsch, the director general of Regavim, said on Wednesday, “We were hoping for an appropriate response by a national right-wing government, as promised in the election campaign.

“There is no justification for this [delay]. Like Cato in ancient Rome, we continue to repeat the same demand, to hold the same consistent position, to call upon our representatives in the government to act immediately to evacuate this illegal encampment—as well as dozens of other Palestinian Authority outposts created in the same mold—not to 300 meters away from its present location, but to the neighborhood prepared precisely for this purpose near Abu Dis.”

Israel has invested some 80 million shekels ($23.7 million) into a relocation site for the residents of Khan al-Ahmar near Abu Dis, where the government has prepared infrastructure, roads, electricity, water, sewage, a health clinic and school all on state land.

MK Danny Danon, chairman of World Likud and Israel’s former ambassador to the U.N., said on Wednesday, “In attempting to avoid the immediate eviction of Khan al-Ahmar, the government’s response to the Supreme Court sets a dangerous precedent and gives the Palestinian Authority free rein to construct additional illegal outposts. This government was elected to change the floundering policies of the previous government rather than to continue with their oversights. It is not too late to act and evict Khan al-Ahmar.”

Last month, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded that laws be applied equally to Israelis and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. His remarks came after an outpost erected to commemorate Rabbi Haim Druckman, the spiritual leader of the religious Zionism movement and who died in late December, was evacuated.

“I believe in the rule of law but there cannot be one law for Arabs and one law for Jews. The law should also be enforced on Khan al-Ahmar and dozens of illegal Arab outposts,” said Ben-Gvir.

According to a recent report by Regavim, Arab expansion into land in Judea and Samaria is far outpacing Israeli growth in the area. The NGO noted more than 170 illegal outposts in Area C of Judea and Samaria, created by the Palestinian Authority and funded by the European Union.

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