Netanyahu Pledges: Illegal Bedouin Shantytown Won't Be and Will Be Evacuated

Elias Hubbard
October 23, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he has chose to postpone the planned demolition of a West Bank hamlet to allow time for a negotiated solution with its residents, in a move that appeared aimed at staving off the global condemnation such a demolition would likely entail.

Israel's plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar have drawn global concern, with the United Nations and European Union member states, including Germany, all calling on the Israeli government not to go ahead in view of the possible impact such a demolition could have on prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

But speaking later ahead of a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Netanyahu appeared to play down the latest move and insisted the village would still be razed.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's office criticized the PM's decision to freeze the evacuation, saying that "the decision to postpone the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar was completely contrary to the position of the defense minister and despite his resolute opposition".

Haaretz reported that the government is holding off on the forcible evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar for a few weeks, in hopes of negotiating a "voluntary evacuation" with the village's 200 residents.

The fate of the village has captured global attention for its years-long legal battle with Israeli authorities over its survival.

Israel plans to relocate the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to a site 12 kilometers away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis and adjacent to a landfill site.

On Sept. 5, Israel's Supreme Court ruled to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and evict its inhabitants.

In Khan al-Ahmar, residents said they would stay put and doubted Netanyahu's sincerity.

"Our strategy is to stay in our land, and we will not leave it", Eid al-Jahalin told AFP.

"Yesterday there was a decision to stop the demolition, but this decision can change at any moment". Israeli authorities have been working at the site for weeks, erecting permanent shelters for the displaced residents of Khan al-Ahmar. "We are practicing our full sovereignty on our land", he said.

According to Netanyahu, the shantytown will be evacuated eventually, but only after a period of time during which there will be an attempt to reach an agreement between the Israeli government and the residents.

The community includes an only school for the Bedouin communities in the area, a mosque and a healthcare unit as well as several homes that are all at risk of demolition by Israel, but residents say they are offered no alternative to go.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett and justice Minister Ayelet shaked voted against a Cabinet decision.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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