Israel can expel Palestinian villagers after election, says High Court

Men hold up a sign condemning the Israeli occupation in the village of Khan al-Ahmar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (Ahmad Gharabli - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  October 4, 2022

Uncertainty about the fate of Palestinians living in the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar is set to continue for an indefinite period following the decision yesterday by Israel’s High Court of Justice to grant the Occupation State its eighth request in a decade to delay the implementation of its commitment to expel the Bedouins from their homes.

Residents of the village were indigenous to the Negev region in historic Palestine, but Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Muslim and Christian Palestinians of 1947/48 forced many to flee their ancestral homeland. Many thousands settled in villages like Khan al-Ahmar but the cycle of ethnic cleansing and expulsion by Israel followed wherever they settled in historic Palestine.

Since 2009, the Occupation State has been granted permission to demolish the homes of residents in Khan al-Ahmar to make way for Jewish-only settlements. The threat of eviction has been hanging over their heads ever since.

Requesting another extension to delay the eviction, the state of Israel argued that the decision should not be made by a transition government. Despite calling the request for another extension “extraordinary”, the High Court granted the request. A new date for eviction has been set for 1 February 2023, three months after the upcoming Knesset election.

Right-wing settler group Regavim slammed the decision to delay the eviction. “A transitional government is allowed to sign a historic natural gas agreement,” Yael Cinnamon, the attorney representing Regavim is reported saying in the Haaretz. “But it can’t answer a simple question: Why is an illegal outpost that the court has decided time after time is to be demolished, still standing.”

Israel’s role in mediating between Russia and Ukraine was mentioned as the reason for the previous eviction postponement in March. Israel has been under pressure not to destroy the community and a fear of international backlash could explain the delay. The former International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned at the time that the forced relocation of Khan al-Ahmar could be a war crime.