Located about seven miles east of Jerusalem, Khan al-Ahmar consists of little more than a cluster of tents and tin shacks that are home to a few hundred Bedouin. The Oslo Accords placed the settlement, along with the nearby Jewish village of Kfar Adumim, in Area C of the West Bank—which was to remain under direct Israeli control pending further negotiations. Because the structures making up Khan al-Ahmar were built illegally, the Israeli government has tried for years to relocate the Bedouin to somewhere where they could live in more suitable conditions. But both European governments and the Palestinian Authority have gotten in the way, as Danny Tirza explains:
Proposals submitted by the [Israeli West Bank] Civil Administration to the Bedouin to relocate onto building plots—which would include public infrastructure and compensation—were rejected on various grounds, often due to political pressure from the Palestinian Authority, backed and assisted by European organizations. . . . Likewise, in violation of Israeli law, . . . EU representatives erected light buildings for the Bedouin on state lands. Under pressure from various factors in the EU, the site has even won the protection of Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel.
The Civil Administration’s law-enforcement agencies froze construction on the site and prevented any development or strengthening of dilapidated buildings in the area, preserving the inhumane conditions in which the Bedouin live. However, a large group of settlers from Kfar Adumim came to the aid of their Bedouin neighbors for humanitarian assistance. . . . It turned out that despite the international controversy, the human connection still exists, as it should.
[Recently] reports came of a compromise proposal agreed to by the Bedouin families, according to which the Bedouin would be relocated to the Arad Valley within Israeli territory and near other members of [their] tribe in the area. Those who had been relocated would receive residential land, financial compensation, and permanent-resident status in Israel.
There is no doubt that the proposed agreement will benefit the Bedouin families. Now, the question is whether the Palestinian Authority and the European Union will allow the Bedouin to implement the agreement and improve their living conditions, or whether Khan al-Ahmar will once again be held hostage by a political struggle.