This Wednesday, August, Israel’s High Court of Justice will hear petitions submitted by opposing sides in the crucial test-case of the enforcement of demolition orders for an illegal Bedouin outpost known as Khan al Ahmar. The outpost is located within the municipal boundaries of Kfar Adumim, has already been cleared for evacuation in June by the High Court. However, since the court had handed down its decision last May, European countries have exerted heavy pressure on the State of Israel to call off the evacuation.
The Palestinian Authority has staged a number of public demonstrations against the evacuation, including, two weeks ago, a “School Year Opening Event” that was held at the outpost – a full 6 weeks before the official start of educational year in the PA’s school system.
To counter this transparent public relations ploy, the Regavim movement petitioned the High Court of Justice to instruct the State to seal off the illegally built school ahead of the coming school year.
In their May decision, the Justices noted that after all is said and done, it is time to end the delays, seeing as the original demolition orders for the Bedouin settlement had been issued in 2009. The ruling further noted that the plaintiffs had spent years filing nuisance petitions whose sole purpose was to stall the court mandated action.
Following the May decision, the Israeli lawyers who had represented the Bedouin squatters was let go, and the case was taken over by the Palestinian Authority’s legal team, which submitted two more petitions: the first requesting that the Civil Administration be forced to accept one more “alternative offer” for legalizing the Bedouin encampment at its current location; the second arguing that the original order was for the demolition of the structures, but not for the evacuation of the residents or their relocation to the new neighborhood—built for them by the State of Israel at Jahalin West, near Abu Dis, where a new school has also been prepared for the Bedouin children of Khan al Ahmar and the surrounding Bedouin camps.
Finally, it should be noted that the High Court’s willingness to hear additional petitions, as well as the temporary stay of evacuation orders in effect until these petitions are heard, stand in stark contrast to the same court’s adamant position regarding the disputed Jewish settlements of Amona and Netiv HaAvot: once demolition orders were handed down, there was no reversing the court’s ruling.
As the Regavim movement put it in a press release this week: in the case of Khan al Ahmar, the High Court has displayed a disturbing “flexibility,” extending a legal process which, by the Court’s own admission, has been plagued by intolerable stalling.