The state is expected to tell the Supreme Court on Sunday that the petition to evacuate the illegal Bedouin settlement of Khan al-Ahmar should be rejected since negotiations are underway to reach an agreed outline for the evacuation, Army Radio reported.
According to the report, even though the state is still not close to reaching an agreement with the illegal residents, it will claim that this is a sensitive security and international issue that must be resolved through dialogue, and not by forceful evacuation.
In February 2017, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories handed out 40 demolition orders for all the buildings in Khan al-Ahmar. In May 2018, the High Court of Justice ruled that there was no reason to interfere with the decision of the defense minister to implement the aforementioned demolition orders.
- On September 5, 2018, the High Court of Justice rejected another petition by the Bedouin residents of the illegal compound to delay the execution of the demolition orders.
- In October 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the compound would be evacuated shortly.
- On October 21, 2018, the political-security cabinet decided to postpone the evacuation by a few weeks, to exhaust the possibility of its residents leaving willingly.
- In June 2019, Netanyahu, in response to Regavim’s petition to the High Court, requested a six-month extension for the eviction, until after the elections and the establishment of a new government.
- In September 2021, the High Court approved another six-month delay in the eviction of the complex until March 2022.
- In March 2022, the High Court of Justice issued a conditional order demanding that the state explain why it does not refer Khan al-Ahmar and allotted 120 days for an answer while warning that this is the last postponement.
- In February 2023, the Netanyahu government requested from the court yet another four-month postponement from the High Court––the ninth one to date––of the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar.
Khan al-Ahmar was established with help from the Palestinian Authority and later the EU, with US approval, at E1, the area that separates Samaria in the north from Judea in the past. The very existence of a future Palestinian State hinges on it: if it remains in place, it will guarantee a contiguous PA-controlled area from Ramallah to Jericho. If it is demolished, this would encourage urban sprawl between Jerusalem and the Jewish town of Ma’aleh Adumim. And that’s the reason Khan al-Ahmar is a hot potato which PM Netanyahu is not willing to add to his list of political woes.
But avoiding new trouble with the US and the EU on the subject of Khan al-Ahmar will not absolve Netanyahu from internal conflict with his two coalition partners, Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir. After the last request for High Court postponement, Netanyahu promised the two ministers that this was the last one, and at the end of four months, he would most certainly, absolutely take down the illegal Arab settlement. But, as is often the case, Netanyahu did not promise to keep his promise.
The Regavim Movement in February issued a strongly-worded statement criticizing the postponement request: “We were hoping for an appropriate response by a national right-wing government – as promised in the election campaign,” said Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “There is no justification for this. Like Cato in ancient Rome, we continue to repeat the same demand, to hold the same consistent position, to call upon our representatives in the government to act immediately to evacuate this illegal compound as well as dozens of other Palestinian Authority outposts created in the same mold – not 300 meters away from its present location, but to the neighborhood prepared precisely for this purpose near Abu Dis.”