Sunday, January 6, 2019

The absurd saga of Khan Al-Ahmar continues - Akiva Bigman

by Akiva Bigman

The outpost is a Palestinian Authority-planned, intentional slight toward the Israeli government, yet in a democratic country, the prime minister alone can't simply decide to evacuate an entire community.

Around the time Amona was forcefully evacuated, over two years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in no uncertain terms: "One thing has to be made clear – Israel is governed by the rule of law. The court's ruling obligates us all and it also obligates the government of Israel. But the law has to be equal. The same law that obliges us to vacate Amona also necessitates the removal of illegal construction in other parts of our country. … I'm not willing to accept a double standard between Jews and Arabs when it comes to illegal construction."

There's been ample time to put this sentiment to the test. Netanyahu invested heavily in preventing the Amona evacuation and in getting its residents to leave voluntarily. The same energies have been poured into convincing the approximately 180 Bedouin residents of Khan Al-Ahmar to leave voluntarily. But we are now approaching the moment of truth.

"The government ministers and I are doing everything possible, everything, to find a solution," Netanyahu said before the evacuation of Amona. "We have devoted days and nights to this [matter], we've held dozens of discussions, suggested creative solutions, out-of-the-box solutions – but to my regret, our proposals weren't accepted." Amona was evacuated, twice now. Khan Al-Ahmar still awaits its fate.

A reminder of the obvious: Just as the illegal Amona outpost was evacuated, there's no reason not to evacuate the illegal outpost of Khan Al-Ahmar. The entire outpost is an intentional and planned slight toward the Israeli government by the Palestinian Authority, meant to garner the public relations effect we are now seeing. There are readily accessible solutions for the people living there, such as developed plots near Maaleh Adumim, which invalidate claims of human rights being trampled. Moreover, European countries help fund this provocation, such that Khan Al-Ahmar has become a symbol of Israeli control in Area C. The outpost is a land-locked protest flotilla.

When the prime minister is criticized on the issue of vacating communities, he can be excused somewhat. There are binding court rulings, international considerations, priorities when it comes to deploying forces on behalf of political battles, independent law enforcement systems and more. In a democratic country not everything is under the direct control of the prime minister; in certain cases, these factors indeed apply.

The ongoing saga of Khan Al-Ahmar brings these "extenuating circumstances" to bear, making the entire situation absurd and hard to tolerate.

Akiva Bigman


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