Israeli expulsion of Bedouin village could be called off

Planned Israeli expulsion of Palestinian village could be called off due to global outcry: reports
2 min read
19 July, 2021
Israeli FM Yair Lapid said in a Sunday message for the cabinet secretary that there could be 'many political consequences' from the expulsion of Khan Al-Ahmar.
Yair Lapid's comments have provoked a strong reaction from a far-right Israeli group [ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP/Getty]

The planned expulsion of Palestinians from a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank should be reassessed, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday, given the global political consequences if the move goes ahead.

It comes after a request to the Israeli High Court of Justice to pause the expulsions for two more months, while discussions are underway with the Khan Al-Ahmar villagers, Haaretz reported.

Lapid said in a Sunday message to Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo: "The compound's evacuation involves a number of weighty challenges, both domestically and internationally, and could therefore lead to many political consequences."

The Palestinian Bedouins of the Jahalin tribe came to Khan Al-Ahmar having been forced out of the Naqab, or Negev, desert in the years that followed Israel's creation in 1948.

In 2018, Israel's High Court gave the green light to level the village although locals received backing from the International Criminal Court and NGOs to remain on their land.

The Hague-based court's prosecutor at the time, Fatou Bensouda, argued that expelling the villagers could count as a war crime.

She insisted that, if required, she would respond.

That year, there were 173 Palestinians living in the village, Israeli rights NGO B'Tselem said.

B'Tselem added that the aim of removing the Palestinians from their homes is to provide space to the growing illegal settlement of Maale Adumim.

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Israel's new foreign minister suggested expelling Khan Al-Ahmar's residents might damage Israel's foreign relations, indicating that the Palestinian population might remain in the village, Haaretz reported.

Such a move would run against electoral pledges made by some right-wing government factions.

Lapid said as the destruction of Khan Al-Ahmar is "a particularly sensitive issue", he wanted time to assess points of law and a possible global backlash.

The Israeli government applied to the High Court to give it until 14 September to provide its view on a request made by the far-right, settler-supporting Regavim group in 2019.

The organisation asked the High Court to greenlight the expulsion, The Times of Israel reported.

Regavim hit out at Israel's current right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after Lapid's comments, saying he had abandoned his election promises.

It urged the far-right premier "to show who's in charge. We call on you to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar immediately!"

The Khan Al-Ahmar developments came as over 1,000 Israeli settlers raided the Al-Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem Sunday morning.