The British Government says it has registered its “grave concern” over record levels of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood raised the matter with Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev on 1 March, while the British Embassy in Tel Aviv pressed the case with Israeli authorities on 28 February.
Questions were raised in the House of Lords this week about the slated demolition of the village school in Khan al Ahmar, a Palestinian Bedouin village near the West Bank city of Jericho, after the IDF ordered that 44 structures be bulldozed.
Ellwood met the village’s leader on a visit last year, and Government spokeswoman Baroness Anelay said: “We are gravely concerned about continued demolition of Palestinian property by the Israeli authorities, including plans to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar.”
The village is near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Adumim and the courts have ruled the structures “illegal,” despite appeals. The villagers’ lawyer Shlomo Lecker said they had been given seven days to leave.
The United Nations and European Union have urged Israeli authorities not to demolish the village, while Palestinian Authority leaders say that doing so would constitute a war crime under the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute.
Campaigners say the significance lies in the village’s location on the edge of E1, an area that serves as a land corridor between Palestinian populations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Building Jewish settlements in E1 would end hopes of a contiguous Palestinian state.
In response to other questions about the uprooting of Palestinian-owned olive trees in the village of Kharas, near Hebron, Anelay said: “We have expressed our serious concerns to the Israeli Government and security officials about the destruction of olive trees on a number of occasions.
“We hold the Israeli authorities responsible for enforcing the rule of law and providing the appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population.”