BEIRUT

Middle East

Illegal West Bank settlement outpost cleared

Israeli settlers wrapped in a tallit, or prayer shawl, pray in front of their houses in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El settlement in the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank, on June 26, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has finished evacuating some 30 settler families from an illegal West Bank outpost, encountering little resistance, police and the military said Friday.

The Ulpana outpost was evacuated in two phases, with the second set of families leaving Thursday night. Police say residents left peacefully, but 15 settlers from outside Ulpana barricaded themselves inside one apartment to protest the eviction.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said officers broke down two doors to remove the resisters and arrested six people.

The evacuation, which began on Tuesday, had once threatened to touch off a coalition crisis because pro-settlement lawmakers said they would topple the government if the settlers were evicted.

But that threat lost its force after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought Israel's largest political party, Kadima, into his coalition last month, giving him a supermajority of 94 of 120 parliamentary seats.

The potential for violence that plagued other settler evacuations was averted after Ulpana residents agreed to leave quietly. In exchange, the government promised to physically uproot their homes and move them to a nearby site. In the meantime, they will live in trailers the government provided for them.

Israel's Supreme Court ordered the outpost dismantled by July 1 because it was built on privately owned Palestinian land. Israel considers such construction illegal, while allowing construction on other land in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians claim all of the West Bank as the core of a future state and consider all Israeli settlement illegal. Disputes between the two sides over continued settlement construction have paralyzed peacemaking for more than three years.

 

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