Jewish settler boys play with toy guns in Amona, east of Ramallah.
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The fate of 50 white caravans perched atop an occupied West Bank hill in the Amona settler outpost is emerging as a key test for Benjamin Netanyahu's newly expanded hard-line government.Amona is the largest of about 100 unauthorized and illegal outposts – built without permission but generally tolerated by the government – that dot the West Bank.Critics say that Netanyahu's support for settlements, regardless of who makes up his Cabinet, means Amona's evacuation may not proceed smoothly.Aside from the rogue outposts, the West Bank is home to another 120 settlements.Amona residents and their supporters in government vow not to bow down easily and are pushing to have the government find a loophole that would allow the settlers to stay put and legalize the outpost.While the court ruling to evacuate Amona was welcomed as a great success for the Palestinian landowners, the resettlement proposal has struck Palestinians and rights groups as counterproductive because it does not decrease the ballooning number of settlers in the West Bank, which now stands at around 400,000 people.Shlomy Zachary, a lawyer with Yesh Din, said the Amona case shows that the Supreme Court is "nearly the only defense" for Palestinians with claims against the settlements. He said that since the 2006 evacuation, Amona continues to symbolize a lack of law enforcement in the West Bank.
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