JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday his decision to delay the demolition of a West Bank Bedouin village would be a brief respite while relocation efforts were under way for his residents.
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows most of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, which Israel plans to demolish on September 1
Israel The decision to destroy the village of Khan al-Ahmar in Israeli-occupied territory has raised international concerns, including from the United Nations and the European Union. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said the eviction and destruction of Khan al-Ahmar could be a war crime.
But an official in Netanyahu's office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Saturday that the eviction had been postponed and an alternative relocation plan was considered in consultation with the Palestinian Authority.
In a speech to reporters on Sunday, Netanyahu said the eviction will eventually take place.
"I have no intention of postponing this indefinitely, despite reports to the contrary, but for a short time," he said.
"The time we provide for evacuation under an agreement is set by the security office, I will convene it today, we will stop (the schedule), it will be short and I think it will come with
Originally, the residents were to be relocated to an area about 12 km (seven miles) away from a landfill site in the Israeli-occupied area. It was expected that the authorities would be able to ship bulldozers at any time after the deadline of October 1, when the villagers had to demolish their homes.
Israel, which has long been trying to liberate the Arab nomads from lands between the Jewish settlements of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, said that Khan al-Ahmar was built without the necessary permits.
Palestinians who have lost an Israeli Supreme Court appeal against evacuation say such documents are impossible to obtain.
The Palestinians say the destruction of the village's tents and tin sheds is part of an Israeli plan to create an arch of Jewish settlements that could effectively cut East Jerusalem off the West Bank occupied by Israel since 1967.
Most countries regard settlements built by Israel on the land conquered in 1967 as illegal and say they reduce and fragment the territory that Palestinians seek for a viable state. Israel denies this.
The United Nations, the EU and human rights groups have urged Israel not to destroy the village, citing the impact on its community and the prospects for peace.
Letter from Jeffrey Heller; Edited by Raissa Kasolowsky