Israel Asks Court for More Time to Decide on Khan al-Ahmar, Citing Ukraine War

Israel has been postponing the decision on demolishing the Bedouin village which was built without permits for years, and has now requested more time as Bennett is involved in efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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The Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.
The village of Khan al-Ahmar.Credit: Maya Ben Nissan
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

The Israeli government is seeking an additional 30 days to inform the High Court of Justice of its current stance on a petition demanding the evacuation of the Bedouin West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, an issue that has attracted widespread international opposition.

The latest request for an extension of time follows a request for a two-day extension that has now expired to present its position regarding the village, which was built without permits.

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In its latest request for addition time, the state said that it still requires input from senior government officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, which is not currently possible due to what was described as “circumstances at the moment in the global diplomatic arena, including the prime minister’s attention to the crisis involving the fighting in Europe.”

Bennett has been involved in the effort to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. He has been in regular contact with the leaders of the two counties and was in Moscow and Berlin over the weekend as part of the diplomatic effort.

There have recently been differences of opinion among the National Security Council, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the stance that the government should take in court, a source told Haaretz.

For its part, the Defense Ministry is proposing a plan that would relocate the village about 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) away, to a site further from Route 1, the major highway in the area.

In September 2020, Justice Noam Solberg called a government request for more time to respond “embarrassing,” but two months later, the state requested additional time to enable the parties to come to an agreed solution.

The right-wing Regavim organization, which filed the petition, said in response to the latest request for an extension of time that, “as far as we know, Prime Minister Bennett has already returned from his trip to Europe and the request for an additional extension smells like fudging. We will consider asking the High Court to make a ruling.”

In September 2018, the European Parliament warned Israel that demolishing and transferring Khan al-Ahmar would a breach of international humanitarian law under the Geneva Convention.

Khan al-Ahmar lies close to Highway 1, near the settlement of Kfar Adumim. Dozens of Bedouin families from the Jahalin tribe live there. They were expelled from the Negev after the state was established and moved to this area, living in temporary structures.

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