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Israeli bulldozers and Dutch red lines

22 October 2018

Israeli bulldozers and Dutch red lines

Israeli bulldozers are attempting to reach the Palestinian village of Khan-al-Ahmar in occupied Palestine in order to demolish the houses and deport the inhabitants, a war crime under international law. It is thanks to stern resistance from the villagers as well as international pressure and solidarity that the village hasn't already been demolished. Demonstrators have been injured, too, this week, and people arrested, one of whom was a Dutch citizen.

The demolitions hang like the Sword of Damocles over the heads of the people who live in the village. During the summer the headman of the village, Eid Khamisjahaun, and other inhabitants of Khan-al-Ahmar told me the impact this has had on the children whose school could be demolished at any moment, on the women who have been humiliated and arrested, and on himself. You have, they said, to stand vigil over your house, your possessions, your land. We were even, on leaving, witness to a blockade of the village's access road, the bulldozer standing there more or less permanently with its motor turning.

Khan-al-Ahmar is situated in a strategically important region, known as the E1 area, in which Israel wants to enlarge the illegal settlements in order to create a Greater Jerusalem. If they aren't stopped, the West Bank could be split into two and the life strangled out of any hope for the two-state solution and Palestinian self-determination.

The Netherlands and other European countries have repeatedly criticised this. In the Dutch Parliament a number of parties have spoken in the recent past about a 'red line', beyond which Israeli actions would become unacceptable. In view of this I put a parliamentary question yesterday to Development and External Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag asking her whether she was willing to summon the Israeli ambassador to ask him for clarification of the existing situation, and whether the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar constituted one of the government's 'red lines'. The first question was answered in the negative; the second wasn't answered at all.

All the more important, then is that we make our voices heard and declare our solidarity with the Palestinian people. They have the right to self-determination and a secure state of their own, just as the Israelis do.

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