Israel's Supreme Court has given permission for the demolition of a Palestinian village in occupied West Bank despite pleas from EU governments not to go ahead with the plan. In its ruling yesterday the court said it found "no reason to intervene in the decision of the minister of defence to implement the demolition orders issued against the illegal structures in Khan Al-Ahmar".
The court ruled that the village was built without the relevant building permits, however such permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank.
Critics have denounced the ruling saying that the decision, which will devastate a community of some 35 families belonging to the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, is another example of the Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing.
The Palestinian presidency called it a racist effort to "uproot the legal Palestinian citizens from their land to control it and to replace them with settlers".
This policy of ethnic cleansing is considered to be the worst form of racial discrimination, which has become the predominant feature of the practices and decisions of the Israeli government and its various instruments
it said in a statement.
It is not clear when the demolition is due to take place.
The community in Khan Al-Ahmar suffered constant persecution at the hands of the Israeli authorities. They have been facing the threat of eviction in order to make way for the expansion of illegal settlements in occupied West Bank. At the end of last year, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that the government would evacuate the entire community within several months.
Following a visit to village, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick and UNRWA's Director of Operations in the West Bank Scott Anderson, the UN said: "Nearly all of the Khan Al-Ahmar community's structures risk demolition by the Israeli authorities, including the school, initially built with donor support that serves some 170 students from the community and four surrounding ones."
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Their plight has attracted the attention of US politicians. Last year, ten US Democratic senators, led by Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein, implored Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the demolition plans for West Bank Palestinian villages, including Khan Al-Ahmar.
"We have long championed a two-state solution as a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the senators wrote.
"Yet, your government's efforts to forcibly evict entire Palestinian communities and expand settlements throughout the West Bank not only directly imperil a two-state solution, but we believe also endanger Israel's future as a Jewish democracy."
The EU has also sharply criticised plans to evict Khan al-Ahmar's residents.
"The practice of enforcement measures such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes and humanitarian assets (including EU-funded) and the obstruction of delivery of humanitarian assistance are contrary to Israel's obligations under international law," Lars Faaborg-Andersen said last year, when he was serving as the EU's ambassador to Israel.