Lapid asks for new delay in demolishing illegal Arab town near Jerusalem

Politics and legal rulings collide over an unauthorized Bedouin community.

By World Israel News Staff

Saying the new government hasn’t had an opportunity to more closely study the issue of Khan al-Ahmar, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid requested a delay to the demolition of the illegal Bedouin community.

In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Lapid said the government wanted to “examine the issue in-depth independently and without relying on the conclusions of the previous government.”

Khan al-Ahmar is located on state land between Maale Adumim and Jericho, about five miles east of the Israeli capital. It is situated specifically in Area C of Judea and Samaria, where Israel maintains full administrative and security control. The community, established in 2009, is hazardous due to its proximity to Highway 1, a major transportation artery.

Its establishment was funded by the Palestinian Authority in an effort to encroach on Israeli authority. The illegal structures overlook the road that connects Jerusalem to the south of Israel in a strategic area. Today, around 180 Bedouin live there.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the community was illegal and authorized the state to demolish it.

Despite repeated promises by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the demolition never happened for political reasons. Justifying the government’s repeated requests to delay implementing the court ruling, then-foreign minister Israel Katz said in 2019 that the government did not want to give the International Criminal Court an excuse to launch an investigation of Israel.

At the time, Naftali Bennett stridently called for Khan al-Ahmar’s razing.

But under the terms of the agreement which brought the Islamist Ra’am party into the governing coalition, Khan al-Ahmar and two other illegal Bedouin communities in southern Israel are to become authorized.

TPS contributed to this report.