Israeli leader Netanyahu delays demolition plan for Bedouin village in West Bank

An Israeli soldier stands next to excavators in the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning confirmed reports that the evacuation of the illegal Bedouin settlement of Khan al-Ahmar would be postponed following talks with the residents.

"It bears recalling, as a general matter, that extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute".

Ibrahim Abu Dahuk said Netanyahu's decision could be "a trick" to prompt activists camping out at the site to leave ahead of a forceful eviction.

Palestinians, who lost an Israeli Supreme Court appeal against the evacuation, say such documents are impossible to obtain.

Netanyahu's move raised the ire of his two major coalition partners, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying he opposed the decision to delay the demolition.

Yesterday, Haaretz quoted sources in the Prime Minister's Office who said "the intent is to try to exhaust the negotiations and the proposals that have been received from various sources, including in recent days", before a forcible evacuation takes place.

The plan, which began in 2005 and has vastly expanded Israeli colonial settlements on Palestinian lands, is set to displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents from their homes and add them to the Palestinian refugee population - the largest refugee population in the world.


Walid Assaf, head of the commission against the wall and settlements, said on Saturday residents of the village are fighting to cancel the demolition order entirely, not just to freeze the order, local media reported.

Israeli soldiers resorted, Friday, to the excessive use of force against dozens of Palestinian, worldwide and Israeli peace activists, holding a nonviolent procession in the al-Khan al-Ahmar Palestinian Bedouin community, east of occupied Jerusalem, wounding ten, and abducted one after injuring him.

Separately, Jordan's King Abdullah II said Sunday that he has decided not to renew parts of his country's landmark peace treaty with Israel. Since that deadline expired without compliance, residents have been waiting for bulldozers to move in.

It comes days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) warned that Israel's planned "evacuation by force" of the village could amount to "war crimes".

"We do not trust the Jews", he said.

Abdullah did not give a reason for his decision, but he has faced escalating domestic pressure to end the lease and return the territories to full Jordanian control.

According to Netanyahu, the shantytown will be evacuated eventually, but only after a period of time during which there will be an attempt to reach an agreement between the Israeli government and the residents.

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