Israel's High Court has "erased" two petitions to prevent the razing of eight Palestinian villages in the West Bank, while affording residents time to submit new ones.
In 2000, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and residents of 12 villages in the southern Hebron Hills area petitioned the court after the state began evacuating the residents because their homes were on military training grounds.
The state said last month that residents of four of the villages would be able to remain in their homes, while the others would be allowed access to the area to tend their farmland when there is no training -- on weekends and Jewish holidays -- and for two periods of a month a year.
The court then asked ACRI and the residents for an updated petition in light of the development. At the beginning of August the petitioners asked that they be able to consider their position until the beginning of November.
On Thursday, the court ruled that "the current petitions in their present form have run their course, and there is no reason to leave them in place."
As long as the petition was being dealt with, the court prevented the state from razing the villages.
"At the same time, the request by the petitioners representatives to examine the ramifications of the new decision (to leave four of the villages) and consult with the residents is understood," the decision read.
"In the wake of the complexity of the topic, and to enable the petitioners time to plan their moves, the interim orders and agreements between the sides (preventing evacuation) will remain intact until 1.11.12, the time period requested by the petitioners to form their stance," said the court.
"The current petitions will be erased."
ACRI has warned that the evacuation of some 2,000 residents from the 12 villages would cause "an immediate humanitarian disaster," and in a Thursday statement rejected the notion of a partial evacuation.
"There is no justification, legal or moral, for evacuating and displacing residents from their homes and their lands - whether we are talking about 12 villages or eight," said attorney Tamar Feldman, director of the group's Occupied Territories department.
"Our position is unwavering: Israel is obliged to allow for the continued residence of these villagers in this area, and nothing will change that."