A showdown between Israel’s Government and High Court of Justice on 1 May concerning the demolition and evacuation of an illegal Bedouin encampment-cum-village – Khan al-Ahmar - threatens to shred the implementation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution and cause an international uproar.
Three judges of the High Court of Justice on 24 May 2018 unanimously rejected a final appeal by the 200 residents of Khan al-Ahmar to demolish the illegal settlement and evacuate its residents – finding the Government had that right “under the letter of the law”.
Two sites for their evacuation have been rejected by the residents:
- A relocation site 8.5 km. away
- Relocation to an area adjoining Abu Dis – where Israel has reportedly invested some 80 million shekels ($23.7 million) preparing infrastructure, roads, electricity, water, sewage, a health clinic and school - all on state land
Nine adjournments had been granted since 2018 until 1 February this year when these three Judges refused to grant the newly-installed Netanyahu Government a tenth adjournment for a further four months - creating an immediate political crisis by ordering the Government to come up with a plan of evacuation by 2 April and relisting the matter for final hearing on 1 May.
The Judges were unmoved by the political ramifications they were causing for the Government by refusing another adjournment and demanding a timetable for demolition.
That plan of evacuation was apparently not provided by the Government to the Court by April 2.
Instead a submission has been filed in the Court by the Government arguing that only the Government should decide on the timing of any demolition – not the Court:
“The petitioners have not proven any cause which would justify court intervention in the broad discretion the political echelon has regarding the manner and timing of the implementation of the demolition orders in the [Khan al-Ahmar] compound ... the question of timing and method of implementation the [demolition] orders are influenced by wide and varied political and security considerations. As such, and bearing in mind the classified information on which these considerations are based, the position of the political echelon is that the decision regarding the question should be left in their hands...is a complex and sensitive question, the consequences of which exceed mere construction and planning laws,” and could have consequences “for Israel’s foreign relations and security.”
From tens to hundreds of thousands of anti judicial reform leftist protestors demonstrating throughout Israel every Saturday night for the last thirteen weeks, waving PLO flags until their public relations experts warned them they would lose support, have been demanding no suggested reforms be made by the Government to the High Court’s jurisdiction to hear and determine cases brought before it.
They have now been joined by two of the leftist demonstrators’ most-hated politicians - Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir – who both unsuccessfully argued that the Government in its submission should allow the Court to make an order for Khan al-Ahmar’s demolition – the last thing these protestors would want to see.
How is this looming showdown going to be avoided?
My humble opinion: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to confirm to the Court, if true, that one of his senior officials has been discussing implementing the Saudi-based Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution or alternative solutions in alleged secret back channel meetings with a senior PLO official for the last three months.
This disclosure should be sufficient for the Court to grant a further adjournment – avoiding any damaging confrontation between the Government and the Court – leaving those secret negotiations to determine the fate of Khan al-Ahmar and thousands of other illegally-built Arab structures.
What a tangled mess we weave....
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Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades
David Singeris an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.