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.


Thousands of Algerians protest against Bouteflika’s re-election bid

Updated 27 min 50 sec ago
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Thousands of Algerians protest against Bouteflika’s re-election bid

ALGIERS: Thousands of young Algerians took to the streets of the capital on Friday to protest against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plans to seek a fifth term and police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
The 81-year old, in office since 1999, has said he will contest the April 18 presidential election, despite concerns over his health. He has been seen in public only a handful of times since suffering a stroke in 2013.
“No to Bouteflika and no to Said,” a crowed chanted while marching through the center of Algiers. The president’s youngest brother Said Bouteflika is a presidential adviser.
Reuters journalists filmed tear gas being fired over a crowd that ran to escape.
“We and the security are brothers,” some protesters chanted.
The protest came after mosque preachers had warned in Friday prayers against demonstrating, warning of violence.
Bouteflika’s re-election bid comes after the ruling FLN party picked him as its official presidential candidate. Several political parties, trade unions and business organizations have already said they would support his re-election.
He is expected to easily win the vote as the opposition remains weak and divided.
But many young people feel disconnected from an elite made up of veteran fighters from Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war with France.
His re-election would provide short-term stability for the FLN, the army and business tycoons, and postpone a potentially difficult succession.
Bouteflika remains popular with many Algerians, who credit him with ending a long civil war by offering an amnesty to former extremist fighters.
Algeria is a key gas supplier to Europe and an ally of the United States in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region of North Africa.