Israel finishing West Bank outpost evacuation
Israel was on Thursday completing the evacuation of the Ulpana settlement outpost in the West Bank, after a deal with residents to build them new homes nearby, the defence ministry said.
Only one family was still left on Thursday evening after 17 quit their homes without resistance during the day, and a spokesman for the ministry, which is responsible for affairs in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said he expected them to leave soon.
"They are being convinced to go by the relevant officials and we are hoping that they will take the decision to leave quietly and peacefully like the rest of their neighbours," spokesman Joshua Hantman told AFP.
A first stage of the court-mandated evacuation was completed peacefully on Tuesday, when 15 families packed up their belongings and left.
Israel's High Court has ordered the demolition of 30 apartments in five buildings in Ulpana, a neighbourhood in the Beit El settlement located near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The removal, which was due before July 1, was ordered because the homes were built on private Palestinian land. Three other families in mobile homes on the land were also ordered to move.
An agreement reached between the settlers and the government last week ensured a peaceful evacuation in return for Israel constructing 300 new homes in Beit El.
The evacuated homes will be removed and transported to new locations, rather than being destroyed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's largely right-wing coalition, which leans heavily on the settler movement for support, has repeatedly sought to stall implementation of the High Court's judgment.
And while the affected residents are moving before the July 1 deadline, the government has asked the High Court to grant a four-month delay on moving the buildings affected by the ruling. The court has yet to respond.
Israel considers settler outposts built without government approval in the West Bank to be illegal, but the international community views all settlements in occupied territory as unlawful, whether approved by the government or not.
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