France on Monday welcomed the Israeli government’s decision to postpone the demolition of the illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan al-Ahmar, but also urged Israel to cancel the demolition altogether.
The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “takes note of the decision by the Israeli prime minister to postpone the demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar.”
“France, in collaboration with its European partners, has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and the forced evacuation of its inhabitants,” added the statement.
“We call on the Israeli authorities to permanently abandon their plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and to remove the uncertainty surrounding the fate of this village, which is located in an area that is key to the contiguity of a future Palestinian state and therefore the viability of the two-state solution.”
Khan al-Ahmar was built in the 1990s on land belonging to the Israeli town of Kfar Adumim, east of Jerusalem. The encampment is home to some 170 Bedouin, who have expanded the community in recent years with the aid of foreign governments.
Last week, the ICC chief prosecutor warned Israel that the demolition could be construed as a war crime.
On Saturday, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the government is holding off on demolishing Khan al-Ahmar in order to “exhaust negotiations and proposals received from various sources, including some in the past few days.”
While the cabinet approved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposal to postpone the demolition, Netanyahu later made clear that the illegal outpost will be demolished.
"Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated, with or without agreement. It will not take weeks; it will be much shorter,” said Netanyahu. “We will make several vital preparatory moves in the international arena. We will give a last chance for evacuation by agreement but in any case Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated. I am not talking about a cosmetic evacuation but a real evacuation.”
“Neither do I need fictitious ultimatums because we are all united around one goal – to evacuate this illegal construction. There is no argument about this. A 'fake' argument is being created. Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated and very soon,” he stressed.