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UN, EU urge Israel to stop demolition of Bedouin village in West Bank

Demonstrators try to prevent a bulldozer from passing through in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem al-Quds in the occupied West Bank on July 4, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union and the United Nations have called on the Israeli regime to halt its plan to raze a village belonging to Palestinian Bedouin families in the occupied West Bank, saying such actions are contrary to international law and undermine peace efforts.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the office of Nikolay Mladenov, the UN Middle East peace envoy, condemned Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian dwellings in the Abu Nuwar community and the regime’s “preparations to demolish Khan Al-Ahmar,” located east of Jerusalem al-Quds.

The expulsion of several dozen Bedouin families from Khan al-Ahmar is seen as enabling future expansion of the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim.

“Israel should stop such actions and plans for relocating Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank,” the tweet read. “Such actions are contrary to international law and undermine the two-state solution.”

The European Union also said in a statement that the demolitions “together with plans for new settlement construction for Israelis in the same area, exacerbate threats to the viability of the two-state solution and further undermine prospects for a lasting peace.”

The EU “expects the Israeli authorities to reverse these decisions and fully meet its obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law,” the statement said.

Several European countries, including Britain, France and Ireland, also joined forces to prevent the demolition plan by Israeli troops.  

“In accordance with our long-standing policy, we therefore condemn such a move, which would strike a major blow to prospects for a two-state solution,| said Britain's Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt while addressing the parliament.

Israeli police officers secure a bulldozer demolishing structures in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank on July 4, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Burt said that the British ambassador had protested the matter on Monday to Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.

 “This should not be happening and need not be happening,” added Burt.

Several British lawmakers called for London to immediately and unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state in response to the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to abide by international law.

The French Foreign Ministry also condemned Israel’s plans for the Palestinian community as going against international humanitarian law, saying the demolition makes the already precarious living conditions of the villages' residents more difficult.

“The villages are also located in an area which is essential for the continuity of a future Palestinian state and thus the viability of the two-state solution, which has been undermined today by the Israeli authorities’ decisions,” French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von Der Muhll said in a statement. 

Paris called on the Israeli authorities to “refrain from any measures aimed at extending [Israeli] settlements in the occupied territories or making them permanent, in contravention of international law, as United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 reaffirms. France, in conjunction with its European partners, will continue to keep a close eye on the issue.”

Ireland has also joined the condemnations of Israel’s plan to demolish the village, with Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney saying on Wednesday that “the eviction of families and demolition of their homes is an action which has a strong historical resonance in Ireland, and which brings discredit on Israel.”

In Israel, lawmaker Ayman Odeh, head of the predominantly Arab Joint List party, described the planned demolition as “war crime which will leave entire families without a roof over their heads.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee denounced the imminent plans by the Israeli army to raze Khan al-Ahmar, urging the international community to act.

“The protection of Palestinian families and the forcible transfer of our indigenous population to a state of homelessness and despair is completely unacceptable,” said Ashrawi, calling on the Tel Aviv regime “to immediately cancel its unlawful plans.”

“The fact that Israel wants to demolish an entire village where its residents have been residing for fifty years for the sole purpose of expanding the illegal West Bank settlement of Kfar Adumim is outrageous and inhumane,” she said.

On Wednesday, Palestinians protested in and around Khan al-Ahmar as Israeli forces began preparations to destroy the Bedouin village.

Residents and activists climbed onto bulldozers and waved Palestinian flags in a bid to halt the demolition.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, eleven people were arrested. Dozens of Palestinian were wounded, four of whom taken to hospital.

Representatives of Israel’s Civil Administration hung notices around the village on Tuesday evening, warning the residents of their impending expulsion.

Israeli authorities have been carrying out forced evacuations against Bedouins since 1949.

The demolition of Bedouin homes is part of the regime’s massive land-grab policy, which will forcefully displace thousands of people.

Tel Aviv has so far refused to recognize the rights of Palestinian Bedouins and denies them access to basic services.

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