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Lieberman slams Europeans for 'interfering' in Khan al-Ahmar

Oct. 7, 2018 11:33 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 9, 2018 3:10 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, sent a letter to eight European ambassadors in Israel slamming them for a joint statement, signed by their respective countries, criticizing Israel’s planned demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.

According to a French-language news outlet, European ambassadors from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom reportedly received a letter from Lieberman last week, calling their joint statement on the demolition of the of Khan al-Ahmar “absurd.”

The eight respective governments signed a joint statement at the United Nations in September calling on Israel to reverse its decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, to which Lieberman responded calling it a “flagrant interference in Israel’s sovereign affairs.”

Lieberman rebuked the eight countries, who in their joint statement, warned that “The consequences of a demolition of this community and the displacement of its residents, including children, against their will, would be very serious and would severely threaten the viability of the two-state solution and undermine prospects for peace.”

Lieberman wrote in his letter “The statement invokes the absurd claim that relocating the residents to proper homes nearby will somehow preclude an eventual political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

He was referring to the Israeli government’s plan to relocate the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to permanent homes in the nearby Abu Dis village, in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem or to an alternative location for Khan al-Ahmar residents that would be located east of the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe in Jericho.

Both relocation offers were rejected by the residents who claimed that they were not consulted in advance and that the locations are unsuitable for their rural way of life.

The demolition of the village would displace 181 residents, 53% of whom are children and 95% of whom are refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Lieberman argued that Khan al-Ahmar is an “internal Israeli matter” and that other countries have no right to intervene after the Israeli High Court ruled for its approval.

“Israel expects to be treated with the same measure of dignity and respect for its judicial institutions and internal affairs as each of your governments rightly expects for its own.”

He wrote “We regard anything less as an expression of injustice and discrimination, unworthy of our friendly bilateral relations and of accepted norms governing the conduct of ties between sovereign nations.”

Opponents of the demolition have argued that the village is not an internal Israeli matter as Khan al-Ahmar is located in the occupied West Bank, where Israel has not employed sovereignty and where the residents have no rights as they are not Israeli citizens.

Critics also argued that the planned demolition is part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal settlement of Kfar Adummim and to create a region of Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea, a move which would bisect the West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.

Lieberman added in the letter “The idea that moving a group of some 100 people within a five kilometer radius will prevent a resolution to such a complex historical conflict is hysterical nonsense.”

The demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and displacement of its residents is due to happen at any moment since the evacuation period, granted by the Israeli High Court, ended on October 1st.

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