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Israeli court orders removal of settlement houses

Reuters

May 7, 2012 | 10:56 am

A general view shows the neighborhood of Ulpana, on the edge of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah on Apr. 22. Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias

A general view shows the neighborhood of Ulpana, on the edge of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah on Apr. 22. Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected on Monday a government request to delay the demolition of five apartment buildings in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, ruling the houses must be removed by July 1.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government agreed last year to remove the houses at Ulpana, on the edge of the Beit El settlement, after a court ruled they were built on private Palestinian land.

But Netanyahu came under intense pressure from within his own Likud party and from other pro-settler coalition allies to delay the demolition, and his government petitioned the court on April 27 for a three-month postponement.

The Supreme Court said in its decision on Monday that the government, which in part wanted more time to allow further checks into whether the land had been purchased legally by the current occupants, had not provided justifiable reason to “renew the discussion”.

About 30 families live in the buildings, officials say.

Israel distinguishes between settlements it has approved and outposts which were never granted official authorization.

Palestinians fear that settlements Israel has built in the territory it captured in a 1967 war will deny them a viable state.

About 310,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Alison Williams

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