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

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.


Israeli Cabinet postpones vote on West Bank annexation

Updated 29 January 2020

Israeli Cabinet postpones vote on West Bank annexation

  • A Cabinet vote on annexing territories on Sunday was not technically feasible because of various preparations
  • Hard-line Israeli nationalists have called for the immediate annexation of West Bank settlements

JERUSALEM: A senior Israeli minister said on Wednesday that a Cabinet vote to endorse annexation of parts of the West Bank will not take place early next week, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge a day earlier to act quickly after the US released a peace plan rejected by the Palestinians.
Netanyahu said he would ask the Cabinet to advance the extension of Israeli sovereignty over most Jewish settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, a move that would likely spark international outrage and complicate the White House’s efforts to build support for the plan.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Israel Radio that a Cabinet vote on annexing territories on Sunday was not technically feasible because of various preparations, including “bringing the proposal before the attorney general and letting him consider the matter.”
Hard-line Israeli nationalists have called for the immediate annexation of West Bank settlements ahead of the country’s third parliamentary elections in under a year, scheduled for March 2.
They have eagerly embraced the part of President Donald Trump’s peace plan that would allow Israel to annex territory but have rejected its call for a Palestinian state in parts of the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinians angrily rejected the Trump plan which largely adopts the Israeli position on all the thorniest issues of the decades-old conflict, from borders and the status of Jerusalem to security measures and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
Levin, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said the Palestinian state envisioned by the Trump peace plan is “roughly the same Palestinian Authority that exists today, with authority to manage civil affairs,” but lacking “substantive powers” like border control or a military.
Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel, has warned against any Israeli “annexation of Palestinian lands,” reaffirming its commitment to an independent Palestinian state formed on the basis of the pre-1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinians seek the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, as part of a future independent state. Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal under international law.
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted Wednesday that “that which is postponed to after the elections will never happen.”
“If we postpone or reduce the extension of sovereignty (in the West Bank), then the opportunity of the century will turn into the loss of the century,” said Bennett, a hawkish Netanyahu ally with the New Right party.
Nahum Barnea, a veteran Israeli columnist, stridently criticized the Trump plan in Wednesday’s Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth, saying it would create a Palestinian state “more meager than Andorra, more fractured than the Virgin Islands.”
He cautioned that annexation would lead to “a reality of two legal systems for two populations in the same territory — one ruling, the second occupied. In other words, an Apartheid state.”