Israel delays demolition of West Bank Bedouin village for 'number of weeks'

Nellie Chapman
October 23, 2018

Israel's security cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to postpone plans to demolish the strategically located Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the West Bank in order to exhaust negotiations towards an evacuation of the village by agreement.

The fate of Khan al-Ahmar has drawn global concern after Israel said it planned to raze the village, a ramshackle camp housing 180 residents.

"The intention is to give a chance to the negotiations and the offers we received from different bodies, including in recent days", a statement from Netanyahu's office said about Khan al-Ahmar. That sparked criticism from Netanyahu's hard-line coalition partners who are demanding decisive action.

But Netanyahu said the demolition would not be delayed indefinitely. "It's a short ruling, that's our policy and it will be done".

"I don't intend to postpone it until further notice contrary to what has been reported, but [make it happen] within a short, fixed period of time".

The israeli authorities accuse the inhabitants of Khan al-Ahmar to be installed illegally, and gave them until October 1st to leave and demolish any construction. It has offered to resettle residents a few miles away in what it says are improved conditions - with connections to water, electricity and sewage treatment they now lack.

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In September, Israel's supreme court rejected appeals against the demolition and said a temporary injunction that had put the move on hold would expire within seven days.

Walid Assaf said Sunday that preparations for winter in solidarity tents will start on Sunday morning, adding that "aggressions against Palestinians and activists are escalating on daily basis". Much of the high-level European engagement derives from concerns that such demolitions could threaten the prospect of a contiguous Palestinian state, at a time of already fading hopes for a two-state solution.

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. As part of interim peace deals in the 1990s, the West Bank was carved up into autonomous and semiautonomous Palestinian areas, known as Areas A and B, and Area C, which is home to some 400,000 Israeli settlers.

Palestinians say that it is virtually impossible to obtain building permits.

"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".

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