Israeli court orders demolition of Jewish settlement in West Bank

JERUSALEM , Sept. 2 (UPI) — Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the evacuation and demolition of a Netiv Ha’avot, West Bank, outpost built for Jewish settlers.

The ruling Thursday by a three-judge panel came after the left-wing Peace Now organization, with several Palestinians who claim ownership of the land, petitioned the court earlier this year. The court ordered the 17 buildings, located 11 miles south of Jerusalem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to be demolished, saying, “No one disputes that all the buildings were built illegally with neither zoning permits for the outpost nor necessary permissions. The state is obligated to enforce the zoning and building laws.”

The court set an 18-month deadline to raze the structures, built in a neighborhood in the West Bank town of Elazar. Israel’s state attorney maintained in court the settlement was legally constructed.

At issue is Israel’s continuing interest in allowing building permits for construction of homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, an area which would be under Palestinian control should a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever be reached. The move by Israel to populate the West Bank with Jewish settlers has been criticized by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

Naftali Bennett of Israel’s right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party was also critical of the judges’ decisions, saying leftists who have given up on seeing a Palestinian state are using the legal system to enforce their positions, commenting, “When the Supreme Court collaborates with them, this erodes the public trust in the court.”

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said a separate ruling ordered last month by the Supreme Court, to raze the West Bank settlement of Amona, would be concluded by the December 25 deadline. The settlement includes 40 homes built on private Palestinian land.

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