Israel has announced it was putting on hold the demolition of a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank until further notice.
“The intention is to give a chance to the negotiations and the offers we received from different bodies, including in recent days,” a statement released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Sunday read.
The fate of the village has captured international attention for its years-long legal battle with Israeli authorities over its survival.
Israeli authorities set October 1 as the deadline for the residents to dismantle their shacks after the demolition was given a green light by an Israeli court last month, under the pretext that it had been built without a permit.
Israeli court rules to demolish Khan al-Ahmar village
But Palestinians say building permits are impossible to obtain, in contrast to the rapid expansion of Jewish-only Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.
The village’s location between two major Israeli settlements, Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, has been a thorn in the side of the Israeli government, which wants to expand the two in order to build a ring of settlements around East Jerusalem.
Palestinian leaders see East Jerusalem as their capital of a future Palestinian state.
Khan al-Ahmar’s destruction would also enable the Israeli government to effectively bisect the West Bank.
Rights advocates had said the forcible transfer of the village’s 180 residents would violate international law regarding occupied territory.
On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor warned that Israel’s planned “evacuation by force” of the village could constitute a war crime. Israel is a signatory of the Rome Statute of the ICC but it has not ratified the agreement.
Residents and activists had been protesting against the planned demolition of the village for more than 100 days.
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.
Last week, Israeli forces entered Khan al-Ahmar with heavy equipment and at least three bulldozers, levelling ground in preparation for its demolition. Several activtsts were injured and were briefly detained after resisting Israeli soldiers who were at the scene.
The Israeli government plans to relocate those displaced to either the vicinity of a sewage treatment facility near the Dead Sea or about 12km away from their homes, near the village of Abu Dis, which is near a landfill.
Al Jazeera and news agencies