Israeli foreign minister seeks to delay demolition of Palestinian village

Demonstrators block a bulldozer to prevent home demolitions in Khan al-Ahmar (Oren Ziv - ActiveStills)

Middle East Monitor  /  July 19, 2021

Israel’s Foreign Minister has asked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to postpone the demolition of a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank. Yair Lapid warned that the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar near Jerusalem will harm Israel’s diplomatic relations. The village apparently stands in the way of the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements.

“The issue of the Khan al-Ahmar evacuation has been on the table of the Israel government for years,” Lapid wrote to Bennett. “In 2018 the Supreme Court of Justice approved the evacuation and destruction of the village, but due to certain political considerations of the previous governments, the village has not been evacuated to this day. The evacuation carries with it many heavy challenges, both internally and internationally, and for that reason it can lead to many political consequences.”

According to The Jerusalem Post, Lapid sent copies of his letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and the directors of the relevant ministries, as well as to other parties. The minister urged careful consideration of the matter before the new government discusses the subject “independently and without being reliant on the conclusions of previous governments, and taking into consideration the fact that this is an especially sensitive matter.”

If agreed, this will be the third such postponement in two years. In June 2019, the unexpected election set for September of that year was the reason given for the delay in the planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar. Last year, an Israeli court slammed as “embarrassing” the government’s request for another postponement of the demolition of the village due to the spread of the coronavirus and diplomatic issues.

With its position within the so-called E1 area, where an Israeli settlement expansion project is planned along the Jerusalem-Jericho road, Palestinians in Khan al-Ahmar have battled for their existence for decades. The Israeli occupation forces maintain that the village must be demolished because it was built without the necessary building permits. Such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain from the occupation authorities.