Photo Credit: Kobi Richter / TPS
Khan Al-Ahmar, January 2019

A report on Tuesday that the government of Israel has decided to move the illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al-Ahmar to a new location nearby has come as a surprise to the people who live there, with locals telling TPS exclusively that residents had yet to be informed.

A report by Israel’s Channel 12 News reporter Amit Segal on Tuesday night broke the news that Khan Al-Ahmar is to be evacuated, and rebuilt on Israeli state land in a spot about 300 meters (1,000 feet) away from its present location, further back from the road.

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“This is the solution that is now being formulated in the defense establishment and the National Security Council in preparation for the High Court decision on March 6,” Segal reported in a tweet.

For several years there have been plans to relocate the illegal outpost, located east of Jerusalem along the highway that winds down from the mountains to the Jordan River Valley and the Dead Sea.

The outpost structures are in a hazardous location, in close proximity and overlooking Highway 1, a major artery that connects Jerusalem to Israel’s southern region. It’s considered a strategic area.

Justices on Israel’s High Court of Justice are expected to reach a ruling on the matter on March 6 after several delays granted to the government to allow lawmakers to find a compromise that could work for all sides.

The residents of the illegal Bedouin outpost — basically a collection of small huts built of corrugated tin and other materials — allegedly asked for a blue (Israeli) identity card in exchange for their voluntary eviction, according to a report Tuesday night by Srugim political reporter Amir Ettinger. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked reportedly refused the request.

Who Lives in Khan Al-Ahmar?
The ‘Jahalin’ Bedouin who live in Kahn Al-Ahmar are an offshoot of a larger tribe based in southern Israel.

A blood feud within the tribe after the 1973 Yom Kippur War forced some of the families to leave and instead migrate north.

Those who left the southern tribe ultimately arrived at and settled in their present location.

‘No One Has Heard of This Agreement’
The residents told TPS they spoke several months ago with Ra’am party chairperson and Knesset Member Mansour Abbas, a member of the coalition government, about the matter. They added that they have not been contacted by anyone — including Abbas — about an agreement.

A Fatah operative in the Ramallah area also told TPS that he had not heard of any agreement between Israel and the Khan Al-Ahmar residents, or with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The outpost’s residents said they believe “people are talking about some sort of understanding reached in recent meetings between Israeli ministers and senior Palestinian Authority officials,” TPS reported.

‘No Red Line Government Will Not Cross’
Religious Zionism party chairperson and Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich expressed outrage in a statement Tuesday night, saying the reported arrangement to relocate Khan Al-Ahmar less than half a mile away in the same strategic area risks Israel’s national security.

“There is no red line that the Bennett-Shaked-Abbas government will not cross and there is nothing of value it will not sell for the sake of its political survival,” Smotrich declared.

“The arrangement of Khan al-Ahmar in the same strategic space between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea is no longer just a violation of Bennett and Shaked’s election promise, but a national, Zionist and strategic security folly, and a fatal violation of Israel’s sovereignty,” he said.

“Bennett and Shaked are surrendering Israel to hypocritical pressure and implementing the Palestinian Authority’s strategic plans to create a contiguous Arab territory, and cutting off the continuum of Israeli settlement while establishing a Palestinian terrorist state in the heart of Israel,” Smotrich warned.

“It’s a prize for terrorism, a prize for crime, a reward to Abu Mazen (the nom de guerre of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas) for filing a lawsuit against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and a fatal blow to settlement and Zionism,” he lamented.

“No cynical move to pay lip service to settlement will whiten this sin, which completes the transition process of Bennett, Shaked and their partners deep into the leftist arms of Oslo,” Smotrich added.

TPS contributed to this report.

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