Israeli court delays West Bank settlement eviction

Israel's Supreme Court on Friday granted a government request to delay the eviction of the largest illegal settler outpost in the occupied West Bank.

The court had previously ruled the outpost, Migron, was built on privately owned Palestinian land and had ordered the government to remove it by 1 August. Friday's ruling extended the deadline to 21 August.

The government told the court on Sunday that the temporary site set up for Migron's 50 families to move to would not be ready in time.

The army also said it was concerned the eviction could set off violent protests by settlers in the sensitive period of Ramadan and asked to delay the task until after the Muslim holiday was over.

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 official authorization.

Migron settlers have long said they were encouraged by the state to erect the hilltop outpost. Though it never received official sanction, the government has spent at least 4 million shekels (US$1.1 million) on maintaining the cluster of mobile homes.

The Jewish state cites biblical and historical ties to the West Bank, which it captured along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in those territories and say the settlements deny them a contiguous, viable state. About 311,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.

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