Israel Tells High Court: Bedouin in Unauthorized West Bank Village Will Be Evacuated by Mid-2018

The Bedouin around Ma’aleh Adumim live in areas that Israel considers strategic for building and expanding settlements and establishing a territorial link between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem

The unauthorized Bedouin village of Khan al-Amar.
Lior Mizrahi

The state informed the High Court of Justice on Sunday that it plans to evacuate an unauthorized Bedouin village by the middle of next year. Khan al-Amar was established without any permits and has become a symbol of the Bedouin presence in the Ma’aleh Adumin area of the West Bank.

The Bedouin around Ma’aleh Adumim live in areas that Israel considers strategic for building and expanding settlements and establishing a territorial link between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, which government and settler leaders have sought to reinforce Israel’s hold on the populous settlement in any future peace negotiations. The government has long expressed its desire to evacuate Khan al-Amar, but has delayed doing so for fear of international criticism.

Some 150 people live in Khan al-Amar in temporary dwellings not properly connected to utilities. Foreign governments, including the Obama administration, have come out against the village’s demolition. According to B’Tselem, demolition of an entire community in the territories has almost no precedent since 1967.

Sunday’s hearing touched on two petitions: the first from settlers in the area who have demanded that an ecological school in the village be demolished, the second from Bedouin residents against demolition orders on their homes.

In response to the petitions, the state said residents of Khan al-Amar have been offered an alternative location about eight kilometers from their present one. This site is considered less strategic for the state since it is further from the area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumin in which the state hopes to create territorial contiguity. The Bedouin have rejected this suggestion in the past as they say it is inappropriate for their lifestyle and forces them into urban living. They have also argued that the area is already settled by other Bedouin factions in a manner that does not allow them to settle there.

In yesterday’s argument, the state claimed that the ecological school – built in 2009 out of tires and without permits, with money from an Italian NGO, and attended by Bedouin children throughout the region – will be reconstructed at the new site. “With the establishment of the school, which is the subject of the Kfar Adumim petition, in April 2018, and at the end of the period of reorganization that has been given the residents of Khan al-Amar to independently move their homes, the authorities plan to demolish the illegal structures,” the state wrote.

In light of this position, the state asked the court to reject both the Bedouin and the settlers’ petitions. The state said it is taking a series of measures to provide realistic solutions for the school and the homes, and that the residents of the village violated zoning laws, and as such “their petition is somewhat tainted.”