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'Israel must stand its ground'

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Justice Minister Shaked explains why she and Minister Bennett voted against the postponement of the evacuation of Khan Al-Ahmar.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) stressed on Sunday evening that the illegal Bedouin outpost of Khan Al-Ahmar will soon be evacuated.

Speaking at a Jewish Home conference in Ma'aleh Adumim, Shaked explained why she voted in the cabinet against postponing the evacuation.

"Minister Bennett and I were opposed today to the postponement of the evacuation, for fear that if the evacuation is postponed every time, it will not be carried out. I believe we will be able to exert pressure and that the illegal outpost will be evacuated," said Shaked, who added that Khan Al-Ahmar is anything but a settlement belonging to innocent Bedouin.

"There is great pressure exerted by the Palestinian Authority and the European Union, as part of a political battle, and the State of Israel must stand its ground. The importance of this is not only in terms of strategic location, but also about a principle of control and sovereignty. We expect Ma'aleh Adumim to be expanded and certainly we should not give authorization for illegal settlement,” she added.

Earlier on Sunday, the security cabinet voted to approve Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposal that the planned demolition of an illegal Bedouin encampment east of Jerusalem be delayed for several weeks.

The illegal community of Khan al-Ahmar, first established in the 1990s, is home to between 170 and 180 Bedouin who settled on a strip of land adjacent to the Israeli town of Kfar Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

Israeli courts have repeatedly upheld demolition orders issued against the illegal community, culminating in the Supreme Court’s final rejection of the residents’ claims in a ruling last month.

Last week, the ICC chief prosecutor warned Israel that the demolition could be construed as a war crime.

On Saturday, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the government is holding off on demolishing Khan Al-Ahmar in order to “exhaust negotiations and proposals received from various sources, including some in the past few days.”

In her remarks on Sunday, Shaked also responded to MK Shelly Yechimovich’s (Zionist Union) verbal attack against her in the Knesset. During a speech at the Knesset memorial for former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yechimovich accused the leadership of the nationalist camp of incitement against the left.

"She made cynical political use of this day. This is a difficult day for all of Israeli society. It has to be used for unity and not for division. Unfortunately, she and other politicians are using this day to attack the entire right,” said Shaked.

"Incitement, unfortunately, exists on both the right and the left. We have to lower the flames together. Unfortunately, instead of talking about it, they chose to blame an entire public for complicity. Her words were immoral, and certainly should not be uttered on a day like this," stressed the Justice Minister.
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