Palestinians appeal to Merkel to save Bedouin hamlet

JERUSALEM (AA) – Palestinians have appealed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to intervene to save the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, which is at the risk of demolition by Israeli authorities.

Merkel is scheduled to arrive in Israel later Wednesday for a two-day visit during which she will hold talks with Israeli officials on relations between the two countries.

She will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin before attending a round-table discussion between German and Israeli officials.

Merkel, however, will not visit Ramallah or meet Palestinian officials during her visit.

“The European Union has warned against the consequences of tearing down the village and Merkel should send a clear message to Israeli officials that the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar would expose Israel to accountability,” prominent Palestinian activist Mustafa Barghouthi told Anadolu Agency.

He called on the German Chancellor to stand against Israel's “ethnic cleansing policy” against the Palestinians in general and Khan al-Ahmar residents in particular.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Merkel is expected to raise the issue of Khan al-Ahmar demolition during her talks with Israeli officials.

The newspaper said that the hamlet will not be demolished during Merkel’s visit due to “diplomatic sensitivities”.

Haaretz said ahead of Merkel’s visit, members of Israeli and German opposition parties met and formulated a joint statement calling for “ending the occupation and stopping the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar.”

The meeting was led by Knesset member Mossi Raz of the left- wing Meretz party and German lawmaker Omid Nouripour.

“The evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar is a war crime that contravenes international law. I hope the international community will mobilize to help stop the demolition of the community and put pressure on the Israeli government,” Raz told Haaretz.

On Tuesday, Palestinians demonstrated against the demolition, with many waving Merkel’s pictures amid calls for her to stop the demolition plans.

On Sept. 5, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and evict the village’s Bedouin inhabitants.

Israel plans to expel some 10,000 Bedouin residents of what is known as the E1 Zone, which sits on 15 square kilometers (5.8 square miles) of land in East Jerusalem, to make way for housing units linking Jerusalem to the Ma'ale Adumim settlement.

If implemented, the plan would effectively cut the West Bank in two, preempting the possibility of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.

In early July, Israeli bulldozers destroyed a number of tents and other structures in Khan al-Ahmar, sparking clashes with local residents.

There are 46 Bedouin communities — inhabited by some 3,000 residents — scattered across Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

Under the 1995 Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), the West Bank — including East Jerusalem — was divided into Areas A, B and C.

Area A falls under the administrative and security control of the PA; Area B falls under the administrative control of the PA and the security control of Israel; and Area C — in which Khan al-Ahmar is located — falls under the administrative and security control of Israel.

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