Migron settlers begin leaving homes: Israeli army

JERUSALEM Sun Sep 2, 2012 1:29am EDT

A general view shows temporary homes in the unauthorized Jewish outpost of Migron near the West Bank city of Ramallah February 8, 2012. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A general view shows temporary homes in the unauthorized Jewish outpost of Migron near the West Bank city of Ramallah February 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Jewish settlers began leaving the unauthorized outpost of Migron in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the military said, obeying an Israeli supreme court order to vacate their homes by Tuesday.

A number of families began moving out of their homes in the hilltop settlement of about 50 families in an orderly fashion, a spokeswoman said, although a few said they would remain and would not go voluntarily, an Israel Radio report added.

A police spokesman said officers had started handing eviction orders to the families before dawn.

The court had delayed several deadlines set for evacuating the settlement in the past year after last-minute appeals. Israeli authorities had voiced concern that settlers could respond violently to any evacuation orders but there was no sign of violent protest on Sunday.

The court last week rejected an appeal by the settlers to delay the evacuation, which a separate ruling a year ago decided was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Migron is one of dozens of hilltop outposts built more than a decade ago without Israeli government authorization on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War but which Palestinians claim for a hoped-for independent state.

Settlers had sought a delay in moving out, saying temporary homes for them elsewhere in the West Bank were not ready. Others maintained they had purchased the land in question.

In numerous instances, settlers have defied government orders and rebuilt unauthorized outposts that had been removed.

Jewish settlements built on territory Israel captured in a 1967 war is one of the main obstacles to a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks stalled since late 2010.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and say settlements deny them a contiguous, viable entity.

The United Nations deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal. Israel disputes this and distinguishes between about 120 settlements it has sanctioned and about 100 outposts erected by settlers without authorization.

About 311,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.

(Writing by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; Editing by Eric Walsh)