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Israeli court: West Bank outpost must be dismantled

Aug. 2, 2011 3:31 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 4, 2011 5:55 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the eviction of settlers from a 10-year-old West Bank outpost but gave authorities until the end of March 2012 to carry out the ruling.

"The court issued an order obliging the state to evacuate the illegal outpost of Migron by March 31, 2012," said the decision, a copy of which was received by AFP.

It said that the government itself defined the site, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, as having been "constructed without government approval and in breach of the law, on the private land of the petitioners."

The decision is likely to aggravate the settler population, some of whom openly advocate a 'price tag' policy in which they attack Palestinians in retaliation for Israeli government policies which they perceive to damage their interests.

"Once again the High Court is not missing a chance to rule against settlements and needlessly throw a match in a powder keg," news site Ynet quoted the Yesha Council settlers' umbrella organization as saying in response.

The court documents said that Migron was set up in May 2001 and its population was estimated in 2009 at around 250.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, named on the suit alongside six Palestinian landowners, said it first petitioned the court more than five years ago but judges accepted repeated government promises to act, until their patience finally ran out.

"It is now up to the government to deal with the problem that it itself created and prove that Israel is a democracy and not an anarchy; to respect and ratify the [court] decision," the group said in a statement.

"Peace Now calls upon the settlers to accept the decision of the courts gracefully and to already now begin to evacuate Migron," it said.

The Israeli government differentiates between settlements built with government permission and so-called illegal outposts established in defiance of its directives.

Peace Now says there are about 100 such outposts strewn across the West Bank.

Palestinians and much of the international community argue that all Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank is in violation of international law.

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