UK minister urges Israel not to demolish West Bank Bedouin village

Alistair Burt, British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, visits Khan al-Ahmar, a West Bank Bedouin village which is under a demolition order. The minister made a last-gasp appeal to Israel not to demolish the village, after the Israeli high court rejected its final appeal. (AFP)
Updated 30 May 2018
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UK minister urges Israel not to demolish West Bank Bedouin village

  • Residents said they expected the demolition of the village, which is home to 180 people and includes a school, to happen in the coming weeks.
  • Alistair Burt, British minister of state for the Middle East, visited the village Wednesday and called on the Israeli government to show restraint.

KHAN AL-AHMAR, Palestinian Territories: A British minister on Wednesday made a last-gasp call to Israel not to raze a Palestinian Bedouin village, after the Israeli supreme court rejected a final appeal against its demolition.
The court last week backed the demolition of the village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank, located close to several Israeli settlements east of Jerusalem.
Residents said they expected the demolition of the village, which is home to 180 people and includes a school, to happen in the coming weeks.
Alistair Burt, British minister of state for the Middle East, visited the village Wednesday and called on the Israeli government to show restraint.
“We are very concerned about the impact of the court case last week and the imminent demolition,” he told AFP during the visit.
He warned that any forced relocation “could constitute forcible transfer of people as far as the United Nations is concerned.”
Forcible transfer is considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Burt said they were still seeking to find an alternative to the demolition but stopped short of threatening any direct measures against the Israeli government.
“I will be wanting to seek to persuade Israeli authorities.”
The Israeli supreme court ruled the village was built without the relevant building permits.
Such permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank.
Israel says it has offered the residents an alternative location.
Eid Abu Khamis, a spokesman for the village, told AFP he had heard messages of support from Western governments for many years but had seen little practical steps to stop Israel.
He told Burt he would like to see action, rather than condemnation.
Separately Wednesday, Israel approved the construction of nearly 2,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank, including 90 within a kilometer of Khan Al-Ahmar, the Peace Now settlement watchdog said.
Peace Now called the approvals near the village “the embodiment of exploitation and evil.”
All settlements are considered illegal under international law.


Netanyahu gives up role as Israel’s foreign minister

Updated 28 sec ago
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Netanyahu gives up role as Israel’s foreign minister

  • An advocacy group, the Movement for Quality Government, went to court to press Netanyahu to stop serving as foreign minister as well

JERUSALEM:Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday handed over his role as foreign minister to intelligence minister Israel Katz, giving up the portfolio he has held since 2015.
Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Katz as acting foreign minister came after an advocacy group, the Movement for Quality Government, went to court to press the prime minister to stop serving as foreign minister as well.
Government officials said Katz, who will remain intelligence minister and also serves as transport minister, will hold the foreign affairs portfolio through the upcoming parliamentary election on April 9. Katz is a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party,
In addition to the premiership, Netanyahu still holds the defense portfolio, which he assumed after his former far-right coalition partner Avigdor Lieberman quit that post in November. Netanyahu is also health minister.
The advocacy group that pushed for a new foreign minister had argued that Netanyahu’s workload was untenable and further harmed a foreign ministry beset by budget disputes.
Netanyahu’s defenders have noted his personal rapport with the US and Russian leaders and regular tours abroad.
“Together with the prime minister we will continue to lead the State of Israel’s foreign policy to new achievements,” Katz, 63, said on Twitter.