The High Court of Justice on Wednesday heard a petition filed by residents of Khan al-Ahmar against the evacuation and demolition of the illegal Bedouin settlement. The crux of the struggle at hand is over the viable future of a Palestinian State, which must control Area E1— which stretches along the narrowest part of Judea and Samaria the vicinity of Khan al-Ahmar, to guarantee it contiguous border. Israel’s rightwing is therefore invested in removing the squatters and imposing Israeli sovereignty on Area E1, to connect metropolitan Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim.
Back in May 2018, Israel’s High Court of Justice determined that the Bedouin residents could be evicted, based on a 2010 demolition order issued by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Which is why on Wednesday the judges – Hanan Meltzer, Yitzhak Amit and Anat Baron –made it clear that the main question is not whether to evacuate the Bedouin squatters, but where they would be evacuated.
At the end of the hearing, the judges ordered the state to formulate comprehensive proposals for relocating the Bedouin squatters, and submit them within five days. Five days later, the squatters will be required to submit their response to the proposals, and the judges will then give their ruling.
Judge Meltzer said that “after collecting the above material, we will decide on the handling of the petition, including the possibility of a ruling without further discussion. We again recommend to the parties to exhaust the efforts to reach a peaceful resolution to the dispute.”
It should be noted that deputy national security adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office, Oded Yosef, is on the record as saying that the illegal residents had been offered a number of alternatives, and that Israel has prepared a permanent neighborhood for the residents of Khan al-Ahmar, where each evicted family will receive a developed plot for free.
According to Haaretz, the alternative housing site is located “between a garbage dump and a car chopshop” near Kfar Azaria, a moshav in green-line Israel, three miles southeast of Ramle.
In a manner reserved to non-Jewish settlers, the High Court last month froze the evacuation order to hear yet another residents’ petition – the latest in a string of such appeals dating back to 2010.
During the hearing, the squatters’ attorneys made it clear that their clients were not willing to move too far from the current location of their shantytown, at most “a hundred or two hundred meters.”
The Jerusalem Envelope Forum issued a statement saying: “It was enough to see how the debate was conducted today in order to understand how the High Court of Justice is rigidly driving Jewish settlements, compared with its out of flexibility in the case of Palestinian construction crime being perpetrated by the Palestinian Authority and the European Union.
“There is a final ruling on the evacuation of the outpost and we expect the judges, despite the legal acrobatics presented today in court, to prove that this is indeed the High Court of Justice and to immediately order the evacuation of the illegal outpost without giving in to the conditions presented by the Palestinian criminals.”
Attorney Avi Segal of the Regavim Movement and the Jerusalem Envelope Forum, who was present at the hearing, said that “in the most enraging manner, while violating the principle of the finality of the court’s ruling, the High Court of Justice decided to re-open its own verdict, and to give additional time which, it is clear, will achieve nothing. Clearly, the new PA petitions are intended to dissolve the court’s ruling.”
“We expect that the High Court of Justice will issue a ruling for the evacuation and demolition of the illegal village, and will put an end to the Palestinian Authority’s move to take over Israeli state land.”