Update on Israel's High Court hearing on the Khan Al Ahmar Ab al Helu Case

A brief update on yesterday’s Israeli High Court hearing on the Khan Al Ahmar Ab al Helu case as provided by OHCHR.  [The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (OHCHR oPt) is a field presence of the Office of United Nations the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).]

Apr 25, 2018 — Israel’s High Court of Justice, Jerusalem

Lawyers at the table represented:

1)     The state

2)     Khan Al Ahmar Bedouin

3)     Kfar Adumim / Alon / Nofe Prat settlers (Regavim lawyer)

4)     Settler solidarity group arguing against relocation to Jabal West

The State’s attorney explained that the Jabal West relocation site will be ready in June 2018.

The Court heard the Regavim lawyer on behalf of Kfar Adumim insisting on demolition of the school regardless of the relocation plans.

The community lawyer argued that the new location (Jabal West) is not viable and that community-driven plans submitted in the past (rejected by the state as unsuitable) were more appropriate. The Court enquired whether the petitioners were talking with the authorities about different locations.  

The Court also heard the settler solidarity group’s motion to join the petition.  They informed the Court that they have approached senior Israeli security and political figures. Their main message was to prevent the relocation to Jabal West but also not to leave the situation as it is now. They argued for mediation over an alternative site more suited to the cultural and economic needs of the community.  No specific alternative site was mentioned by any party throughout the hearing.  The State responded that it was * NOT * willing to discuss alternative sites, and called for a rapid decision by the court.

After hearing all parties, the Court asked the State whether it would agree to consider an alternative location that would better meet the community needs,  if the community agreed to leave Khan al Ahmar Ab al Hilu.  

The Court adjourned for consultation by State’s attorney. On return, the State informed the Court that they categorically rejected the Court’s proposal, and that this is the final position following consultation with high ranking officials in the Ministry of Defense and the Israeli Civil Administration.

The community lawyer responded that the Jabal West plan will not solve the issue of 20,000 Bedouin in Area C for the ICA, and that Jabal West has become a political symbol for the Israeli authorities. He said that there should be real planning solutions for Bedouin and that forcible transfer is not a real solution. He also stated that this particular community is not supported by the PA. He emphasized that demolition would cause strategic damage to Israel’s reputation, and that forcible transfer is a grave breach of the Geneva Convention.  

The court postponed a decision for one week.