The Regavim Movement reacted with concern to the state’s response in the Khan al Ahmarcase, which was submitted to the High Court this evening.
The government requested an additional six month delay of the deadline to submit its official position to the court in the matter of the illegal outpost on Route 1 slated for demolition over a decade ago. During this additional half-year period, the state intends to submit a confidential document to the court detailing all the considerations that impact the enforcement of demolition orders at the site.
Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, sharply criticized the state’s response, and the conduct of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“From the first day of the current government’s term, we have stressed that deeds, not words, are what count,” Deutsch said. “Today it has become clear that contrary to its oft-repeated declarations, this government is continuing along the dangerous trajectory set by its predecessor, conducting its law enforcement system according to the whims of foreign governments.”
“The root of anarchy is selective, preferential law enforcement. No sector or segment of the population should enjoy immunity from law enforcement because of international pressure while the law is enforced against other sectors.”
Regavim noted that in earlier responses to the High Court, the state explained that law enforcement at Khan al Ahmar would be postponed for fear that this would trigger proceedings in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
“This conduct broadcasts a very problematic message to the world, intimating that the State of Israel is a guest in this territory when in fact Judea and Samaria have been under internationally-recognized Israeli jurisdiction for a longer period of time than the British Mandate and the Jordanian occupation combined,” noted Deutsch.
“The time has come for the State of Israel to exercise its rights to this territory, and to behave in a manner befitting the sovereign body responsible for law enforcement in the area according to international law and in accordance with the historic right of the State of Israel to the territories of Judea and Samaria.”
This afternoon (Wednesday) the High Court of Justice granted the government yet another extension, requiring a response to Regavim’s petition by 5 September 2021 – but stressed that this would be the last time.
The most recent round in the Khan al Ahmar case – the sixth petition by the Regavim Movement demanding the evacuation of the illegal squatters’ camp – follows more than a decade of legal ping-pong.
In 2018, the Israeli government gave a commitment to the High Court that Khan al Ahmar would be evacuated, but since that time the state has requested a number of extensions, citing a virtual laundry list of excuses.
Last week, the state’s lawyer requested yet another delay, claiming that the formation of a new government requires a re-evaluation of government policy regarding the illegal encampment on the Route 1 highway. This time, it appears that the High Court is losing patience; today’s decision granted a short extension but made it clear that this would be the last such delay.
“Like us, the High Court of Justice is fed up with the government’s “theater of the absurd,” said Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. “The government’s ineffectual – even helpless – posture in the face of the illegal construction at Khan al Ahmar is emblematic of its weak-kneed stance against the Palestinian Authority’s strategic takeover of the open spaces of Judea and Samaria. We are gratified that even the High Court of Justice has grown weary of the government’s failure to enforce the law, to maintain order in areas under its jurisdiction, and to protect Israel’s national interests.”
Following Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s announcement today (Sunday) that a formal request has been made to postpone the evacuation of Khan al Ahmar, Regavim calls upon Prime Minister Bennett: Pull yourself together and demonstrate who is really the head of this government. Evacuate Khan al Ahmar today.
In all of its recent campaigns, the Yemina Party and Prime Minister Bennett explained that Netanyahu had to be replaced in order to fight the Palestinian Authority’s takeover of Area C, to stop the loss of state land in the Negev to Bedouin squatters, to restore the rule of law to the Galilee, the Negev and Israel’s mixed cities – and yes, to evacuate the illegal outpost known as Khan al Ahmar.
The fact that Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid chose to release a media announcement specifically on Tisha B’Av, notifying the public that a request has been made to once again postpone the evacuation of the illegal encampment on Route 1 – despite the fact that the state’s attorney submitted a response to Regavim’s High Court of Justice petition last week, leaves little room for doubt: Lapid’s “political spin” – at Yemina’s expense – is intended to prevent Bennett from actually carrying out any of his campaign promises and political commitments -in the Negev, in the Galilee, and in Khan al Ahmar.
Bennett, it’s time to come to your senses and demonstrate that you are actually Prime Minister. Evacuate Khan al Ahmar today.
י"ד כסלו התשפ"א - 30 November 2020
The High Court of Justice on Sunday (30 November) granted the state can another additional extension and postponed proceedings regarding the evacuation of the illegal Arab outpost of Khan al Ahmar until July 2021.
In it seventh hearing on Khan al Ahmar following a petition submitted by the Regavim Movement, the court granted the state another extension, giving Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Gantz another seven months to report on the status of the Palestinian Authority (PA) outpost in the Adumim Region (E1).
The High Court of Justice approved the evacuation of the outpost, and this most recent petition was filed when the government failed to fulfill its commitment.
Regavim, which monitors and combats illegal Arab construction and land grabs, accused Netanyahu of “hiding behind closed-door hearings and secret communications to avoid why he was able to demolish [the Israeli communities of] Netiv HaAvot and Amona but is unable to evacuate Khan al Ahmar or to stand up to the Palestinian Authority.”
“It’s convenient for Netanyahu to hide behind closed doors and use in-camera hearings to avoid explaining to the Israeli public why he hasn’t lived up to his public pronouncements and to his commitment, reiterated countless times, to evacuate Khan al Ahmar. He owes the voters an explanation: Why was he able to evacuate Netiv HaAvot and Amona, but unable to deal with Khan al Ahmar or the Palestinian Authority?”
The Khan al Ahmar saga, more than a decade long, has been heard in multiple High Court of Justice petitions submitted by Regavim.
In 2018, the Israeli government announced its intention to complete the evacuation and relocation of the illegal outpost, the flagship of the Palestinian Authority’s systematic program of territorial dominance in Area C.
The Jahalin Bedouin, the residents of Kahn Al-Ahmar, are an offshoot of a larger tribe based in southern Israel. After a blood feud that occurred within the tribe in the 1970s, some of the families were forced out and migrated north, arriving and settling in their present location after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The location of the illegal structures is hazardous due to its proximity to Highway 1, a major transportation artery. Khan al Ahmar overlooks the road that connects Jerusalem to the south of Israel in a strategic area.
For 10 years, the illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al-Ahmar has been undermining Israel’s rule of law, making a mockery of Israeli sovereignty, enabling the Palestinian Authority to carry out the Fayyad Plan for the establishment of a de facto state on Israeli-controlled sections of Judea and Samaria and galvanizing a coalition of anti-Israel NGOs and foreign interests. Now, Khan al-Ahmar has become an instrument for the evisceration of High Court of Justice rulings and the erosion of the very foundations of Israeli democracy.
On Monday evening, the State Attorney submitted a request to the court on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking to delay a hearing on a petition submitted by Israeli NGO Regavim against the government’s failure to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar. Should the court grant this request, the hearing, scheduled for early December 2019, would be postponed until March 2020.
Khan al-Ahmar is one of more than 170 illegal outposts created by the P.A. and funded by the European Union for the sole purpose of establishing a corridor of P.A.-controlled territory disconnecting Jerusalem from the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. These outposts are populated by the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and easily manipulated Bedouin families, stateless pawns in the P.A.’s power play, and follow a very simple, very predictable pattern of development.
First, the P.A. places water tankers at strategic points: along major Israeli highways, on land belonging to or abutting existing Jewish communities, or along lines that create territorial contiguity between major Arab population clusters in Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria. Knowing that Bedouin require little more than a steady supply of water to congregate and remain in any particular spot in this arid region, the P.A. thus attracts the tribes to strategic locations, even when those locations pose serious hazards to the health and livelihood of the Bedouin.
The next step is the construction of a school. This, too, attracts population—and makes for devastating publicity if Israel’s Civil Administration knocks it down. From this point, the battle of narratives begins. The “village” quickly rises up, constructed almost entirely of prefab housing units bearing the symbol of the European Union. It is given a name and equipped with a fictitious history. An army of internationally financed “do-gooders” takes up the cause of the unfortunate Bedouin who are “threatened” with relocation by the Israeli authorities—to new, modern neighborhoods on Israeli state-owned land, along with cash payouts and other forms of compensation.
The P.A., the European Union and a host of “humanitarian aid” groups take to the High Court of Justice to block any and all compromise solutions, forcing the helpless Bedouin to remain in unbearable conditions in the illegal outposts, in the service of the P.A.’s geopolitical machinations.
More than a decade ago, Regavim began monitoring, mapping, reporting on and petitioning against Khan al-Ahmar and its sister outposts. It took years to force the Israeli government to take notice of the strategic nature of these seemingly innocuous Bedouin squatters camps, and even more years to convince the government to demand that the European Union stop funding this illegal activity.
After six rounds of Supreme Court petitions, each of which resulted in clearly worded decisions regarding the illegality of Khan al-Ahmar and the necessity to relocate the Bedouin families living there, the only thing standing in the way is the Israeli government. Regavim strenuously objects to the delay of the hearing on the government’s inaction.
“This is the sixth petition we have submitted in the matter of Khan al-Ahmar,” said Meir Deutsch, director general of Regavim. “The State of Israel should have cleared the encampment as far back as 2009, when the Supreme Court handed down its first decision on the matter. We believe that further procrastination eviscerates the ‘final’ judgment handed down by the High Court after the fourth round of hearings. The government’s behavior in this matter is an affront to the stature of the court and harms the national interest.”
One year ago, Netanyahu publicly declared that Khan al-Ahmar would be evacuated in a matter of days. Since then, every passing day is one more day of shame for the rule of law in Israel.
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