For two and a half years, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been delaying the evacuation of the illegal outpost Khan al-Ahmar—located right between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem—despite the High Court decision that allowed the demolition of its illegal structures and the removal of the Bedouin squatters. On Monday night, News 12 revealed that for the past year or two there have been secret negotiations between the representatives of the residents and the state, during which the residents agreed to vacate the place and move to another, permanent location in exchange for obtaining permanent resident status in Israel, similar to the Arabs of eastern Jerusalem.
On May 24, 2018, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that, as of June 2018, the IDF is permitted to move Khan al-Ahmar’s residents—several Bedouin families who had been moved there by the Palestinian Authority—to an alternative location (Lapid Asking AG to Postpone Evacuation of Illegal Outpost Khan al-Ahmar).
During the negotiations, it was agreed with the official representative of the residents that the outpost would be evacuated, and in return, they would be transferred to a permanent settlement near Mt. Masada in a place called “Valley of the Zealots” and receive Israeli passports.
Our friends at Regavim sent us a press release suggesting “this is a hallucinatory and recycled idea from the feverish mind of left-wing activist Yoel Marshak, designed to apply the idea of a de facto Arab return to Israel.”
Yoel Marshak, 76, is an Israeli left-wing activist, the former head of the kibbutz movement’s missions division. Back in 2005, before the eviction of the Jews of Gush Katif, when the Sharon government feared a massive resistance to the expulsion within the IDF, Marshak signed up 13,000 leftist reservists who committed to throw out the Jews from their homes if the army won’t.
According to Regavim, Marshak’s initiative was indeed placed on Netanyahu’s desk, and he dumped it. The movement’s press release stated: “We are certain that Bennett is also too responsible to consider this dangerous idea.”
But according to News12, the reason the Netanyahu government never adopted the agreement with the Bedouins of Khan al-Ahmar had to do with the general instability and chaos of the past two years, what with the four elections and all, and not with Netanyahu’s fundamental disagreement.
Prime Minister Bennett, who made Netanyahu’s failure to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar one of his central campaign issues (alongside Netanyahu’s reneging on applying Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria), might actually be tempted to embrace a deal with the illegal outpost’s Bedouin, who were placed there by the Palestinian Authority and the European Union as peons in the effort to degrade Israel’s hold on Area C as mandated by the Oslo agreements.
Moving them to the foot of Mt. Masada (perhaps granting them a concession for the tourists), coupled with some residential sanctions (maybe not passports, though) could solve a major dilemma for the left-right, Lapid-Bennett coalition. Meanwhile, because Khan al-Ahmar is located smack in the middle of the peanut-shaped “west bank,” owning it is much like owning the center square in the game of tic-tac-toe: whoever controls Khan al-Ahmar owns the future of either a contiguous Palestinian state or the Jewish urban sprawl that will connect Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem and sever any future Palestinian state.