The state on Tuesday night asked the High Court of justice for another 30-day postponement of its response regarding the evacuation of the squatters’ shantytown of Khan al-Ahmar, this time on the grounds that it requires “the consideration of the most senior officials, headed by the Prime Minister.” The request for a new delay––seventh since May 2018, when the court approved the evacuation of the illegal Arab settlement––states that “in the current state of affairs, having regard to the circumstances in the global political arena, including the prime minister’s involvement in the war crisis in Europe, and in order to allow the Prime Minister to engage in the matter of the petition, the Honorable Court is requested to grant the respondents an additional extension.”
OK, you’ll admit someone over at the AG’s office has a fantastic sense of humor. The image of Naftali Bennett from Ra’anana hopping around the world to stop wars everywhere, unable to do his job when it comes to removing a festering, illegal Palestinian Authority fake village, it’s what the term LOL was coined for since the sixth day of Creation.
Over at the Regavim movement, folks were not amused, not in the least. They issued a clipped response: “As far as we know, Prime Minister Bennett has already returned from his trip to Europe, and the request for further postponement smells like a smear. We will consider applying to the High Court for a ruling.”
There was a pun there, in the Regavim statement: they used the Hebrew word “merikha” as in smells, and “merikha” as in smear. Same sound, different meanings.
Last September, three and a half years after approving the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, the High Court granted the state’s request and allowed another six months’ postponement of the evacuation of the illegal Bedouin enclave. The judges then ordered the state to submit an update notice by Tuesday this week, and in the meantime did not compel it to carry out the eviction.
In that September ruling, Justice Noam Solberg rebuked the state harshly, saying: “There is no doubt that the day is near when we would no longer consent to the non-clarification of the petition, and will require a clear decision, remove or let stay.” He warned: “Even if the attempts to advance one outline or another may delay the end a little, the rope cannot be stretched too indefinitely. These attempts, too, have a limit. There comes a stage where these attempts become a disgrace; this must not be accepted.”
The postponement decision last September was made based on the Foreign Ministry’s opinion that there was a political difficulty in evacuating the outpost, and that such an evacuation could exact a heavy political price abroad. Two months earlier, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had warned that the evacuation of the outpost would cause political damage to Israel, and called for a re-examination of the conditions necessary to carry out the move, which had been postponed for years, among other things under pressure from the international community.
Historically there was no substantial settlement called Khan al-Ahmar. According to the 1931 census conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Khan al-Ahmar had a population of 27, of whom 25 were Muslims and 2 Christians. They dwelled in 3 houses.
In 1945, Khan al-Ahmar had 4047.5 acres of land, but zero population. Of this land, 133 acres were used to grow cereals, while the rest was classified as non-cultivable land.
In the late 1970s, Khan al-Ahmar was incorporated into lands that were assigned to the new Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim. The area is crucial to the future of a Palestinian state, located at the narrowest point separating Samaria from Judea. With Khan al-Ahmar out of the way and urban sprawl allowed to connect Maale Adumim and the Jerusalem suburbs, there will be no contiguous Palestinian state.
Several key members of the current government supported the evacuation of the shantytown, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who in 2019 urged then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to carry out the evacuation.
Justice Minister Gideon Saar also expressed support for the evacuation, and in December 2019 began his election campaign for the Likud leadership on a tour of Khan al-Ahmar, in an attempt to shame Netanyahu.
Ministers Avigdor Liberman, Ayelet Shaked, and Zeev Elkin have all expressed their support for the evacuation. But, of course, the left-wing of the Lapid-Bennett government will never allow it. The solution appears to be sending PM Bennett on more peace missions around the world. So if any of you out there need a good mediator for you and your despicable neighbors – Naftali is your man. Unless you happen to live in Maale Adumim, in which case don’t bother.