The illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in Judea and Samaria, March 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Khan al-Ahmar

The court says it will allow the government to decide on the timing of the evacuation because of “diplomatic and security matters of the highest level.’

By Pesach Benson, TPS

Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday that the government may delay the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, an illegally built Bedouin village near Jerusalem that has been the epicenter of a decades-long legal battle.

Legal efforts to prevent the outpost’s razing came to an end in May 2018 when the High Court ruled that Khan al-Ahmar could be demolished and its residents relocated. However, the previous governments of Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid never followed through on the evacuation.

In response to a petition demanding Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition, Netanyahu’s government cited “the complexity of the issue at hand and its sensitivity, as well as the great interest it arouses among various parties in the international community and its implications for the foreign relations and security of the State of Israel.”

Sunday’s ruling agreed. The court said that it would allow the government to decide on the timing of the evacuation because of “diplomatic and security matters of the highest level.”

The ruling, written by Justice Alex Stein, said that confidential documents provided by the government “put our minds at ease that these reasons, without exception, are tied to state security and foreign affairs.”

The Bedouins of the Jahalin tribe built the village’s first structures without permits on state-owned land in the 1970s between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Its residents — around 200 adults and children — are not Israeli citizens.

The petition for Khan al-Ahmar’s immediate demolition was filed by Regavim, a non-governmental organization that monitors illegal Palestinian construction and land theft in Judea and Samaria. Regavim was co-founded in 2006 by Betzalel Smotrich, who is now Finance Minister and also oversees the civil administration of Judea and Samaria.

Smotrich has not commented on yesterday’s ruling.

Regavim called the ruling “a disgrace.”

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