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Netanyahu: Security Cabinet Will Set Timetable for Negotiating Khan al-Ahmar Evacuation

Following massive pressure from the right, Netanyahu says ‘I have no intention of postponing this until further notice’ ■ Sources in Netanyahu’s office told Haaretz decision was made in order to look into different offers made before forcefully evicting residents

Noa Landau and Yotam Berger Oct 21, 2018 9:57 AM

Palestinian schoolgirls make their way to their school in the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, September 13, 2018.Credit: \ MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the contested West Bank Village Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated, “hopefully with the residents’ consent.”

Netanyahu’s comments, made at a press conference alongside U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, come a day after sources in Netanyahu’s office told Haaretz that the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar will be delayed until further notice.

“Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated, it’s a court ruling, that’s our policy and it will be done,” he said. “I have no intention of postponing this until further notice, contrary to reports, but rather for a short, defined period of time.” 

“The period of time to try to evacuate [the village] with [the residents’] agreement will be determined by the cabinet,” he added. “I will convene it today, we will set a date. It will be short, and I believe it will be with consent.”

The government is holding off on evacuating the  West Bank Bedouin village in order to exhaust negotiations and proposals received from various sources, including some in the past few days, sources in the prime minister’s office said.

Security forces have said in recent days that they are ready to evacuate the village and are waiting for instructions to do so.

However, sources told Haaretz in the past week and Saturday evening, that the order is being delayed without explanation.

The police and the Civil Administration didn’t receive orders to leave the area, and in recent days, access roads to heavy vehicles have been re-paved.

Last week, Haaretz learned that Jerusalem was aware of unusual diplomatic statements by both the European Union and the chief prosecutor of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and estimated that the evacuation would take place after the UN security council meeting to take place on Thursday.

In September, the High Court of Justice denied a petition filed by the residents of Khan al-Ahmar and gave the state the green light to evacuate the entire village.

The village had been built on state-owned land and its houses were constructed without permits.

Justices Hanan Melcer, Yitzhak Amit and Anat Baron said the main issue in the case was not whether the eviction could be carried out, but where the residents would be relocated.

The Bedouin village is close to Route 1 in the area of Kfar Adumim. It is home to a few dozen families from the Jahalin tribe, which was expelled from its home in the Negev to the West Bank in the 1950s.

Aerial photographs and testimony by villagers show that the residents wandered within the Jerusalem-Jericho region before gradually establishing permanent residence in Khan al-Ahmar, apparently in or around the 1970s. Khan al-Ahmar is just one of a number of villages that are home to the Jahalin.

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