Israeli court tells settlers to evacuate outpost by Tuesday
JERUSALEM: Israel’s high court ruled on Wednesday that an unauthorised Jewish settler outpost on occupied West Bank territory must be evacuated by next Tuesday.
The court rejected an appeal by the settlers to delay the evacuation of Migron, a hilltop settlement of about 50 families, which an earlier court ruling had decided was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.
The Migron settlement was one of dozens built more than a decade ago without Israeli government authorisation on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War but which Palestinians claim for a hoped-for independent state.
The court had delayed an initial August 1 deadline due to the settlers’ appeal.
Some had contested the ruling in order to seek a delay in moving out, saying temporary homes for them elsewhere in the West Bank were not ready. Others maintained they had purchased the land in question.
“We order the petitioners be evacuated from the outpost not later than September 4, 2012 and that the buildings be removed no later than September 11, 2012. The appeal has been rejected,” the written court ruling said.
The Israeli authorities have voiced concern in the past that settlers could respond violently to any evacuation orders.
Settlers have in numerous instances defied government orders and rebuilt unauthorised outposts removed.
The United Nations deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal. Israel disputes this and distinguishes between about 120 settlements it has sanctioned and about 100 outposts erected by settlers without authorisation.
Migron settlers have long said they were encouraged by the state to erect their outpost. Though it never received official sanction, the government has spent at least 4 million shekels ($1.1 million) on maintaining the cluster of mobile homes.
The settlements issue is one of the main obstacle to a resumption of the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and say the settlements deny them a contiguous, viable entity. No Palestinian reaction to the Migron ruling was immediately avalaible.
About 311,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.