Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: Supreme Court orders demolition of West Bank settlement

August 2, 2011 |  8:46 am

For the first time, Israel's Supreme Court has formally ordered the dismantling of an illegal West Bank settlement, brushing aside requests from the government for more time in order to organize the evacuation and construct alternative housing.

The government had already conceded that the Migron outpost, just north of Jerusalem and home to about 250 settlers, was illegally built in 1999 on top of private Palestinian land.

But since 2006, when the advocacy group Peace Now first filed a lawsuit against the settlement, the government has sought delays and broken deadlines to evacuate the settlers.

In frustration, the justices decided Tuesday that the settlement should be demolished by March 2012. If it happens, it would be the first evacuation of an entire settlement since 2005, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip.

But other court orders, including one to evacuate an illegally built, Jewish-occupied apartment building in an Arab-dominated Jerusalem neighborhood, have not been enforced.

The decision is likely to turn up the heat on Israel's Supreme Court, which is frequently put in the position of enforcing controversial or unpopular policies that Israel's lawmakers and officials prefer to avoid.


Israel struggles with free-speech rights

Two Palestinians reported killed in army raid on camp

-- Edmund Sanders in Jerusalem

Photo: A general view of the outpost of Migron near the West Bank city of Ramallah as seen August 12, 2008. Credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters.