Israeli court clears Gaza pullout

Opponents of Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip have failed to persuade the Supreme Court to block a law paving the way for a pullout this summer.

    Gaza pullout involves 8500 settlers in 21 settlements

    The court on Monday rejected eight petitions for an injunction against the Evacuation Compensation bill that was approved by the Israeli parliament in February, according to a text of the decision released to news media.


    The legislation effectively gave the government the go-ahead to proceed with the pullout and provide payments to the 8,500 Jews slated to lose their homes in 21 settlements built on occupied land in Gaza.


    Due to the sensitivity of the issue, an expanded panel of 11 judges heard the petitions, which included arguments that uprooting settlers would violate their human and property rights.


    Future petitions


    While the rightist settlers could still try to contest aspects of the pullout in future legal petitions, the Supreme Court's affirmation of the law raised the bar for such

    challenges to succeed.


    Last month, the withdrawal plan cleared its final legislative hurdle when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pushed the 2005 state budget through parliament.


    Under Israeli law, failure to approve the spending package by the end of March would have forced a general election in late June, balloting that would have postponed the pullout.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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