By Dildar Baykan
UNITED NATIONS (AA) – Eight European nations issued a joint statement Thursday at the UN Security Council calling on Israel to reverse course on plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in East Jerusalem.
Earlier this month, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled against petitions by residents of the village to prevent its demolition, allowing authorities to carry it out within the next seven days.
Underlining the positions of France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany and Italy, the statement voiced continued opposition to Israel’s settlement policy, including demolitions of Palestinian communities and “forced transfers” of populations, which are illegal under international law.
The statement referred to the “strategic importance” of Khan al-Ahmar in the contiguity of a future Palestinian state and stressed that its demolition would bear serious consequences for its residents, threatening the viability of the two-state solution and undermining prospects for peace.
“We, as member states of the European Union, will not give up on a negotiated two-state solution with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” the statement said, adding they would also continue to support the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The Israeli Supreme Court issued a verdict last May to demolish Khan al-Ahmar’s makeshift school for 170 students as well as the homes of 190 residents. But authorities were unable to carry out the decision due to staunch resistance from the local population as well as a global backlash.
Israel hopes to expel some 10,000 Bedouin residents in East Jerusalem to make way for new Jewish-only housing units linking the city to the Maale Adumim settlement.
If implemented, the plan would effectively cut the West Bank in two, preempting the possibility of a territorially contiguous Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.