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Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Stop the Forced Uprooting of Bedouin Communities From the West Bank

Editorial     24 September 2017     Haaretz

Uprooting Bedouin communities and replacing them with new Jewish settlements is against international law, and the Israeli High Court of Justice must stand firm against it

Bedouin girls on their way to school in the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, February 2017.Bedouin girls on their way to school in the West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, February 2017. Lior Mizrahi

The High Court of Justice is expected to fill up Monday with a very familiar audience from recent years: Bedouin villagers from the West Bank, diplomats, representatives of international organizations and Israeli activists. Justices Neal Hendel, Isaac Amit and Uri Shoham are to hear two petitions involving the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, which became famous in 2009 for its school, built out of tires.

One of the petitions, by the settlement of Kfar Adumim, demands that the state implement its order to demolish the school. The other, brought by the Bedouin residents, seeks to rescind demolition orders issued against most of the structures in the village.

At the request of the State Prosecutor’s Office, the opposing petitions are to be presented at the same hearing. But the days have passed and the prosecution has still yet to present its response to them. On September 13, officers of the Civil Administration (part of the Israel Defense Forces) came to Khan al-Ahmar and informed the residents that despite their opposition, they were to be moved to “Al-Jabal West,” near the Abu Dis garbage dump. In the late 1990s, land was allocated there to the Bedouin who were expelled from an area slated for the expansion of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement. A study by the nongovernmental organization Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and UNRWA shows that the enforced move to a semi-urban environment would severely harm the residents’ lifestyle and livelihood.

Last week, the State Prosecutor’s Office twice requested a continuance to submit its response. In both cases, it said it was still awaiting the response of “the most senior political officials.” That response is expected to come only on Sunday afternoon. But the court refused the request of lawyer Shlomo Lecker, representing the Bedouin community, to postpone the hearing due to the late filing of the response.

Presumably the senior political officials had time to peruse the response over the holiday. Its direction was set by Defense MinisterAvigdor Lieberman: On August 29, he said his ministry was preparing to evacuate the residents of Khan al-Ahmar and Sussia – another flagship in the struggle of Palestinian communities in Area C (under Israeli civil and security control) against attempts to expel them to sites abutting Area A (under Palestinian civil and security control).

No one is disputing that the school and other structures were built without permits. But the problem is not “construction offenders.” The problem is Israeli policy, which prevents construction and hookups to infrastructure to the point where dozens of communities have deteriorated to the harshest of conditions

The problem is Israel’s intention to uproot them, in order to expand settlements and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This political project – the forced uprooting of Bedouin communities, replacing them with new Jewish settlements – is against international law. It has reached the doorstep of the High Court justices, who are under constant pressure to “respect the will of the people” – that is, the will of the settlers who control the government – even though this will is neither legal nor moral. It must be hoped the justices will be able to stand in the breach.


Israel Threatens to Demolish Bedouin Homes Despite High Court Order

In legal spat, Civil Administration says Bedouin groups are playing for time and not addressing the issue in disputed E1 area near Ma’aleh Adumim

by Yotam Berger      21 September 2017          Haaretz

A Bedouin community in the West Bank.A Bedouin community in the West Bank. Emil Salman

The High Court of Justice has forbidden the demolition of Bedouin homes in the E1 area near Ma’aleh Adumim until it is determined whether they can be legalized. However, the Israeli army’s Civil Administration in the West Bank is threatening to destroy them.

A group of Bedouin from Jabal Baba and Bir Al-Maskub are waging a legal battle after the Oversight Subcommittee in Judea and Samaria – a Civil Administration body – threatened to destroy their homes. The group submitted a request last Thursday to declare the Civil Administration in contempt of court, with their lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, asking the court to make it clear that the homes cannot be demolished at this time.

In February, after lengthy legal proceedings, the High Court issued interim restraining orders as part of a compromise agreement under which the Bedouin would approach the Civil Administration’s inspection unit with a request “to examine whether their issues can be corrected, and if it’s possible to delay implementing the [demolition] orders until after the arrangement.” In the event that the Civil Administration could not regularize the Bedouin structures at the site, residents would be given 30 days’ warning before demolition.

The High Court demanded that the Bedouin give power of attorney to Lecker, plus a detailed description of every structure and copies of their identity cards. These documents were submitted in early July, but shortly afterward they received a letter from the oversight subcommittee demanding another form.

This form asked them to give details about their employers and the number of sheep and goats they own. In the accompanying letter, the subcommittee coordinator, Annie Dahan, threatened that if the forms were not returned within seven days, the demolition orders would be implemented immediately, with no 30-day notice.

Dahan says this form had been sent to the petitioners in March and was never returned. Lecker says he only received the forms on July 16, after he had already submitted the petitioners’ requests.

The prosecution claims the Bedouin aren’t cooperating, “in an effort to extent the validity of the interim orders endlessly.” A prosecution representative of the High Court division told Lecker he had to have the forms back by Monday.

Lecker said the Bedouin residents are prepared to fill out the forms, with some minor revisions. Since the Civil Administration has not retracted its intent to demolish the compound unless the forms are submitted, he made the contempt of court filing.

The Civil Administration said in response, “The High Court’s ruling on the matter stated that the petitioners had to submit a request to regularize the illegal construction by May. The petitioners did not do so, despite warnings from the authorities – even after they were given numerous extensions beyond the letter of the law. The petitioners’ lawyer recently announced that he refuses to submit the request as required by the authorities, and petitioned the High Court on the grounds that the petitioners are exempt from submitting all the forms required for evaluating the request.”

Yotam Berger