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Supreme court orders removal of part of Israeli settlement outpost

Palestinian children from the village of al-Mazraa al-Qabaliya look a bungalows in the distance built by Israeli settlers at an outpost constructed on land seized from the Palestinian village, near the West Bank city of Birzeit on December 3, 2013
Abbas Momani (AFP/File)
Court ruled 17 caravans were placed entirely on private land and must be removed by June 22, 2018

Israel's High Court on Tuesday ordered the removal of parts of a Jewish settlement outpost that were built on private Palestinian land, hours after parliament passed a law legalizing similar cases.

The court ruled that 17 caravans in the Tapuah West outpost in the northern West Bank were placed entirely on private land and must be removed by June 22, 2018.

But it accepted a request by the state for time to give retrospective authorization to the rest of the outpost -- 18 structures erected on state land and four erected partly on state and partly on private land. 

The ruling came just hours after the Israeli parliament passed a law, which allows appropriations of private Palestinian land on which Jewish settlers built without knowing it was private property or with the consent of state.

The so-called Regulation Bill received 60 votes in favor opposed to just 52 against in its third reading.

The legislation legalizes dozens of wildcat outposts and thousands of homes in established settlements.

Human rights group Yesh Din, which represented the Palestinian landowners in the court case, said that leaving part of the outpost intact "violates the rights of the Palestinian residents of Yasuf" and demonstrated Israeli policy was one of theft in broad daylight.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, whose far-right Jewish Home party was the driving force behind the new law adopted late on Monday, welcomed the ruling as "an important success for the settlement enterprise." 

In a statement, the minister claimed that the ruling meant the Tapuah West outpost now had legal approval.

A spokeswoman for the Samaria regional council, which covers settlements in the northern West Bank, told AFP that most of the caravans that the court ordered removed were not homes but ancillary structures.

She said the decision would only affect "between four and six families" who would simply move a "few hundred meters (yards)" to the part of the outpost built on state land.

Last week, Israeli police removed 42 families from the Amona outpost in accordance with a High Court ruling that it was built on private land, prompting two days of scuffles with hundreds of hardline sympathizers.

The bill was directly inspired by the lengthy saga around Amona. The international community considers all Jewish settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, dubbed outposts.

(Staff with AFP)

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