Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended plans to demolish a Bedouin village in the West Bank amid international concern. The ICC has warned that evacuating Khan al-Ahmar could constitute a war crime.
A Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank scheduled for demolition by Israel has received a temporary reprieve after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put a hold on plans to evacuate and raze it.
Israeli authorities say that the small village, Khan al-Ahmar, which is home to just 180 residents, was built illegally, and had ordered villagers to leave their houses and pull them down by October 1. Since that deadline expired without compliance, residents have been waiting for bulldozers to move in.
"The intention [of the postponement] is to give a chance to the negotiations and the offers we received from different bodies, including in recent days," a statement from the premier's office said on Saturday.
On Sunday, Netanyahu himself told reporters that the postponement would be only temporary.
"I have no intention of postponing this indefinitely, despite reports to the contrary, but for a short time," he said.
He said his security Cabinet would set what he called a "short" timetable at a meeting on Sunday.
Possible war crime
Israel's plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar have drawn international concern, with the UN and EU member states, including Germany, all calling on the Israeli government not to go ahead in view of the possible impact such a demolition could have on prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Palestinians say that it is virtually impossible to obtain building permits. They maintain that razing the village is part of an Israeli plan to make room to expand Jewish settlements so they would, in effect, divide the occupied West Bank, thus further fragmenting the territory sought for a future Palestinian state.
On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in a statement that Israel's planned "evacuation by force" of Khan al-Ahmar could constitute a war crime.
The plans for evacuating the village include relocation to an area about 12 kilometers (7 miles) away next to a landfill.
The village is currently located east of Jerusalem on a highway leading to the Dead Sea.
tj/jlw (AFP, Reuters)