Schneider Aviel

Tachles With Aviel – What Makes an Illegal Outpost Legal

Right-wing Israeli voters fume as Netanyahu follows a familiar pattern of letting foreign pressure guide the Jewish state’s policies.

| Topics: Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish Settlers
Religious Zionist faction head Bezalel Smotrich promised right-wing Israeli voters a different approach. His biggest obstacle will be Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Tachles: A modern Hebrew word of Yiddish origin that means “to the point.”


The new government hasn’t been in office for even a hundred days yet, and already things are getting hot! This is a full-blooded right-wing coalition. No leftists to thwart their agenda. They can do whatever they want, which has long been the dream of these parties. Meanwhile, the left sees the situation as an unmitigated nightmare.

For the ninth time since 2018, an Israeli government has failed to demolish the disputed Palestinian outpost of Khan Al-Ahmar. Benjamin Netanyahu has been at the head of most of those previous governments, as he is at the head of this new one. And now Israel’s national-religious government is asking the Supreme Court to follow a familiar pattern: postpone the eviction of the illegal Bedouin settlement of Khan Al-Ahmar east of Ma’aleh Adumim yet again. The Jewish settlers and right-wing voters are disappointed in their own nationalist governing coalition. They were solemnly promised that “in Israel one and the same law applies to Jews and Palestinians.” Just as the Jewish outpost of Or Haim in Samaria was evacuated overnight about two weeks ago, the Palestinian outpost of Khan Al-Ahmar en route to the Dead Sea was also due to be evacuated this week.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir points to the illegal Palestinian outpost of Khan al-Ahmar. Photo: Screenshot

It was the religious ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich who preached about a political turnaround under the new coalition. “Illegal homes and outposts are being demolished not only for Jews, but now also for Palestinians,” the two said. “A right-wing government is only right-wing if we are there,” Ben-Gvir emphasized in a campaign video clip prior to the election. “We will evacuate Khan Al-Ahmar. We won’t just talk, talk and talk. We will act. Even the Supreme Court has agreed with the government that Khan Al-Ahmar must be removed. This is only possible with our party in government. Vote for Jewish Power [Otzma Yehudit – the name of Ben-Gvir’s party].” Smotrich, head of the umbrella Religious Zionist faction that includes Ben-Gvir’s party, said several times in the past that Netanyahu is only strong against Jews, but weak against Palestinians. “Bibi evacuated the Jewish settlement of Emuna, but not Khan Al-Ahmar,” Smotrich stressed a few years ago.

“He evacuated Emuna, but not Khan Al-Ahmar. Bibi is weak toward Arabs and strong against Jews. The great spirit of the wonderful settler youth will triumph.”

Now both ministers are sitting around the same government table talking and talking and talking, and once again the Palestinian outpost of Khan Al-Ahmar has not been evacuated. The Jewish outpost of Or Haim, on the other hand, was forcibly removed. Politics are influenced by many forces, and they are often stronger than ideology. Now the two ministers’ closest friends are criticizing the government’s recent decision, ordered as they see it by Netanyahu’s puppet masters in Washington. “We had hoped to get an appropriate response from a right-wing nationalist government, as we were promised before the elections.”

“The enemy smells weakness in the Khan Al-Ahmar issue and that is why we are being attacked from the Gaza Strip. If we don’t respond with a mighty blow, then I will take drastic action. My loyalty is first to the people of the South and Negev. The same law must apply in both Tel Aviv and the southern area around Gaza.”

“The new government has been tasked with establishing a Zionist vision in the country and curbing the Palestinian takeover of Area C [those parts of Judea and Samaria still under full Israeli control]. But instead we hear the same excuses and there is no justification for that,” said Meir Deutsch, the leader of the Jewish settler movement Regavim. Deutsch is demanding that the right-wing government under Netanyahu immediately evacuate the Palestinian outpost and its residents. And not just shift them half a mile to the left or right, but transfer them to their approved location in Abu Dis, which is within the Palestinian autonomous zone of Area A.

Aerial view of Khan al-Ahmar to the east of Jerusalem. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The decision was also heavily criticized within the Likud. “That’s not what we promised the voters,” say voices from the party. Likud lawmaker and former Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon also criticized the government: “The decision not to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar is wrong. With its response to the Supreme Court, the government is setting a dangerous precedent and giving the Palestinian Authority free rein to build illegal outposts. This government was elected to change the vacillating policies of the previous government, not to perpetuate their failings.”

It’s true what Danon said, but in reality it doesn’t always work. Bibi is Israel’s most popular and charismatic leader, but that doesn’t make him a Jewish settler. During his previous reigns, Netanyahu was criticized around the clock by the Jewish settlers for not building enough, or at all, in the biblical heartland. He was also against the annexation of Judea and Samaria, which Washington proposed under Donald Trump in the so-called “deal of the century.” Bibi himself will be the biggest obstacle to Ben-Gvir and Smotrich carrying out everything they have promised their constituents. Foreign governments don’t get involved during the election campaigns, that only happens during the governing process. Jewish outposts are easier to evacuate than Palestinian outposts because the outside world is more sympathetic to the Palestinian side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A Jewish outpost in Judea and Samaria is considered illegal and a Palestinian outpost legal. In the biblical heartland, the world community is more willing to accept a Palestinian settlement than a Jewish one. Even under the current full-blooded right-wing coalition.


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