Israel begins shutdown of illegal outpost on West Bank

Jordan's King Abdullah First Middle East Leader to Meet Trump Since Inauguration
Israel begins shutdown of illegal outpost on West Bank
Author

02 February, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would build Israel's first new settlement in a quarter-century, after thousands of security officers forcibly removed residents from an unauthorized West Bank outpost.

The outburst of violence over the outpost, which the Israeli High Court ruled as illegal because it sits on private Palestinian land, comes after months of tension over the site.

Israel on Tuesday approved the construction of 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank, the defense ministry announced.

The announcement of new settler homes was the fourth since US President Donald Trump took office less than two weeks ago having signalled a softer stance on Israeli settlement building.

The worldwide community considers all Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land as illegal and regards their construction as the biggest obstacle to a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

The Supreme Court of the country had given the government time till February 8 to evacuate the settlers in Amona. Today, police climbed the hill to initiate the operation, setting off a tense standoff and skirmishes with settlers and their supporters.

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It appears to be aimed at calming settler anger over the impending court-ordered evacuation of the Amona outpost. Clashes broke out there when young religious protesters threw stones and attacked the Israeli police, injuring more than a dozen.

"This is a hard and sad day for the people of Israel, a day the law enforcement authorities are asked to implement a High Court decision, ordering the destruction of a community the state helped found, and evacuation of residents from the homes they have been living for 20 years", he said in a statement.

The BBC's Yolande Knell, who is at the outpost, says numerous 50 or so Israeli families who have been living there remained in the homes as bulldozers approached on Wednesday.

On Thursday last week, Israeli officials gave final approval for 153 settler homes in east Jerusalem. As such, Amona residents claimed that the Israeli government violated the initial agreement, prompting them to renew their campaign against the community's relocation.

Mogherini said continued settlement expansion "goes directly against" European Union policy and the recommendations of the Quartet, which is made up of the European Union, the United States, the United Nations and Russian Federation.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is under Israeli jurisdiction and administration. The worldwide community views them as a major obstacle to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.


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