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Israel to postpone Khan al-Ahmar demolition

Oct. 21, 2018 12:46 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 22, 2018 3:13 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Despite the Israeli High Court’s approval for the demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had postponed the demolition, on Sunday.

According to Hebrew-language news outlets, Netanyahu decided to postpone the demolition of the Khan al-Ahmar village, despite the Israeli High Court’s approval and controversy among Israeli government ministers.

The demolition, which would displace 181 people, half of whom are children, was postponed for "a short time" until the Israeli Cabinet would set a timetable for the village's evacuation, according to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said in a statement that “The amount of time to achieve this consent will be determined by the Cabinet. I will convene it today. It will make a decision. The timetable will be short. I believe the evacuation will also be consensual.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, slammed the decision and emphasized it was made "despite (his) strong objections."

In September, the Israeli High Court rejected an appeal against the demolition of the village and ruled for its evacuation and demolition to take place, granting an evacuation period until October 1st, allowing Israeli forces to "legally" demolish it afterwards.

Additionally, since the approval, Khan al-Ahmar residents have been assaulted and a number of them were detained, as well as having their village repeatedly flooded with wastewater by Israeli settlers and sealed off by Israeli forces.

The Israeli High Court ruled for the demolition on the basis of Khan al-Ahmar lacking almost impossible-to-obtain Israeli building permits, which the United Nations has said results from the discriminatory zoning and planning regimes implemented in Area C -- the more than 60% of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control.

The Oslo agreements in 1995 between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israeli authorities divided the West Bank into three sections: areas A, B, and C. Area A, comprising the populated Palestinian cities and making up 18 percent of the West Bank, would be controlled by the newly formed PA, while Area B remained under Israeli army control with the PA controlling civil affairs.

Area C, the majority of the West Bank, however, was placed under full Israeli military control and contains the majority of natural resources and open spaces in the Palestinian territory. The Israeli-controlled land was expected to be gradually transferred to the PA over a five-year period, according to the Oslo agreements.

Yet, almost two decades later, the land has remained under Israeli control.

Area C, along with East Jerusalem -- considered the capital of any future Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution -- has been the site of rapid Israeli settlement expansions, while Israel's separation wall has further divided Palestinian communities and has restricted Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from even visiting what was intended to be their capital.

Khan al-Ahmar's demolition would also enable the Israeli government to effectively bisect the occupied West Bank.

Critics and human rights organizations argue that the demolition is part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea, which would make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.

Israel has been constantly trying to uproot Bedouin communities from the east of Jerusalem area to allow settlement expansion in the area, which would later turn the entire eastern part of the West Bank into a settlement zone.

Although international humanitarian law prohibits the demolition of the village and illegal confiscation of private property, Israeli forces continue their planned expansion by forcing evictions and violating basic human rights of the people.

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