Israeli Settlers Voluntarily Leave West Bank Outpost

Posted September 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Israeli settlers have voluntarily evacuated a West Bank settlement outpost, ending a year-long legal battle with the Israeli supreme court, which ruled the Jewish homes were illegally built on land privately-owned by Palestinians.

The remaining families of the Migron outpost, built without Israeli government authorization, left early Sunday as Israeli police handed them orders to evict ahead of a court-ordered Tuesday deadline. The families relocated to the nearby government-authorized settlement of Ofra. Dozens of radical Israeli youths from other settlements entered Migron to protest the eviction, but police removed them.

Palestinians denounce Israeli settlement activity as robbing them of West Bank land they claim for a future state. Much of the international community deems all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal. Israel disputes those views and says it expects to keep major settlements in any peace deal with the Palestinians.

Israel's top court had extended the evacuation deadline for Migron repeatedly since its August 2011 ruling, as the settlers tried to prove ownership of the land and the government asked for delays to persuade them to leave voluntarily. The settlers criticized the evacuation order but agreed to relocate to Ofra as part of a compromise with the government.

In another development Sunday, Israeli ultranationalists moved into a home in East Jerusalem after a court ordered its Palestinian residents to vacate part of it. The Israelis took possession of a room and a courtyard in the home in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud.

An Israeli court has ruled that an American supporter of Jewish settlements, Irving Moskovitz, legally bought the property from Jewish organizations that owned the land before Israel's establishment in 1948. The Palestinian Hamdallah family has lived in the building since 1952 and has refused to leave.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 Mideast war, a move that is not recognized internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state.