Tuesday

25th Sep 2018

Opinion

EU's moment of truth in Khan al-Ahmar

  • Visible, public pressure brought Khan al-Ahmar thus far (Photo: Photo by Rima Essa)

Sometimes, the last day in court isn't.

The 24 May decision by Israeli High Court justices Sohlberg, Baron and Willner was supposed to be just that for Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian community a few kilometres east of Jerusalem. Their last day in court, to be followed by the imminent demolition of the entire community by Israeli authorities.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

As unanimous and unequivocal as it was in its delivery, that day's decision was no more than an attempt to provide a guise of formal legality for deeply immoral - and fundamentally illegal - state actions.

Deploying formalistic blindness of the most cynical kind, the justices conveniently opted to ignore such "details" as the fact that Israel has systematically established a planning regime through which it almost never allows Palestinians to receive building permits.

With the essential context conveniently tucked away, the judges paved the way for "rule of law"-based reasoning for demolishing a school, dozens of homes - and the lives of more than 170 Palestinians.

Such decisions should be challenged locally and internationally - and this one certainly was.

Peaceful community leadership by Eid Jahalin and others; non-violent resistance by activists on the days earlier this month when Israeli bulldozers were making preparations for the coming demolitions - 11 were arrested and dozens injured by Israeli security forces' brutality; visible diplomatic action - through statements as well as physical presence such as the 5 July visit by diplomats from France, the UK, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Ireland; an international open letter signed by more than 300 elected officials, legal scholars, academics, artists, faith leaders, and activists from around the world; and a clear articulation of the community's demolition as the war crime it might become if realised - all these, combined, were perhaps part of the context for a sudden willingness on the part of the High Court not to reject offhand a new petition.

New day

Now, Khan al-Ahmar has a new day in court: 1 August.

The 24 May decision did not make the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar one ounce more morally acceptable. All it did was to both greenlight the looming war crime and make the judges complicit in it, and personally liable for it.

With that now in mind, what will the judges consider in the forthcoming hearing?

As already demonstrated in recent weeks, we must focus on keeping the issue in the forefront of international attention.

The official protest by the EU-5 (the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) was key - but as can be learned from court filings submitted by Israel in the new petition, it was not enough: Israel remained steadfast in its intention to go ahead.

The 10 July court submission by the state was unflinching: "Clarifying that the Civil Administration enforcement authorities, as well as the Israeli police and various other parties on behalf of the respondents, are in the last stretch of preparations for the implementation of the final demolition orders in the Khan al-Ahmar compound, according to the outline presented by the state. For the sake of clarity of opinion and the removal of doubt - this last stretch means the implementation of the demolition orders within a foreseeable period of a few days."

Yet, the judges are now giving this further consideration. And with more concrete actions, Israeli decision makers may as well.

The EU-5 have spoken out assertively. And on 18 July, EU high representative Federica Mogherini threatened "very serious" consequences.

But what would these be? What would they have done if no new petition had been filed and if the court hadn't issued a temporary order and the demolitions would have gone ahead as Israel officially insisted it was planning to do without delay?

International pressure

For this scenario not to become reality, they - and others - must redouble the efforts to save this community.

The efforts to date have meant that 24 May was not, after all, the last day. Two months later, Khan al-Ahmar still stands. We have a fighting chance to save this community - and dozens of others: Israeli intentions are to forcibly transfer thousands of Palestinians.

Visible, public pressure brought Khan al-Ahmar thus far. Wednesday (1 August) is the new target day, to make Israel reconsider its intentions and back off. Khan al-Ahmar's moment of truth is our moment of truth.

For decades, Israel has refused to allow Khan al-Ahmar to even have a decent access road. This month, the state finally paved one: not to serve the residents, but to make it possible to demolish their homes.

Perhaps, if justice does prevail, not only will the community be allowed to stay in place, but it will also finally have a proper access road. The last stretch towards demolitions could become the first step towards construction, development and justice.

Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B'Tselem, an NGO in Jerusalem

No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

Will the centre-right stand up for EU values?

Time for Christian Democrats in the EP to show where they stand on Hungary and on the EU's founding principles, say Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in a joint text.

Europe needs more modern leadership

If Europe wants to be a global leader, our political leadership has to change dramatically. Power needs a new face in Europe, and it needs to get legitimacy from the people, argues liberal MEP Sophie in 't Veld.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us