Without even a limited censure, the Trump administration is signaling a green light.
Most residents are members of the Jahalin tribe, which the Israeli military expelled from the Negev desert of southern Israel at the start of the 1950’s. The Jahalin Bedouins were relocated to the area of Kfar Adumim in the West Bank in 1952, only to be moved again to their current location when an Israeli settlement was built there.
Growing up herding sheep and goats in the hills east of Jerusalem, Eid Jahalin never expected to find himself one day lobbying in the halls of the U.S. Congress.
But that is how the 51-year-old spent last week, as the small cluster of shacks he calls his home village comes under threat of demolition by Israeli bulldozers.
The Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, inhabited by 173 people, may seem unassuming, with homes made of wood and tarpaulin and surrounded by animal pens. But its strategic location puts it at the heart of the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
If Israel were to demolish the village and other surrounding Bedouin communities and build here as planned, Palestinian territory in the occupied West Bank would be split in two, with a portion of it isolated from any future capital in East Jerusalem.
Khan al-Ahmar has been fighting demolition for decades, but Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in May that its destruction is legal, and in recent weeks, Israel has begun preparing to demolish the village with bulldozers.
While European nations including Ireland, France and Britain have spoken out against the plans, and human rights group decry the forcible transfer of Khan al-Ahmar’s residents as a war crime, the United States has remained silent.
Palestinian officials say the U.S. silence amounts to a green light. The Trump administration, they say, is allowing Israel to erode their rights without even limited censure.