Israel’s High Court rejected a government bid to delay the evacuation of an unsanctioned Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank beyond a December deadline, in a case that has drawn international concern.
Amona settlement is under a court order to be evacuated by December 25 since it was built on private Palestinian land. But right-wing Israeli politicians have called for about 40 families living on the outpost to be allowed to remain.
“The evacuation must occur before December 25,” the court said in its ruling on Monday. “The court rejects the delay requested by the state.”
Whether the government moves ahead with the demolition of the outpost has been seen as a test case of whether it will heed international calls to halt continued settlement growth in the West Bank.
Israel’s government, which had sought a nine-month delay to Amona’s demolition, is seen as the most right-wing in the country’s history, and key members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition advocate settlement building, while openly opposing the idea of a Palestinian state.
The High Court ruled in 2014 that Amona, northeast of Ramallah in the central West Bank, must be evacuated.
There are concerns over how any evacuation will play out. In 2006, the demolition of nine permanent houses in the outpost led to clashes between settlers and Israeli security forces.
With the Amona deadline in mind, a committee of Israeli ministers on Sunday approved a bill that would allow for the legalisation of homes there and elsewhere in the West Bank.
The legislation would allow for the settlement homes built on private Palestinian land in communities that meet certain criteria.
The Palestinian landowners would be offered compensation in return for the land being seized.
The legislation is expected to apply to between 2,000 and 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, and which the Palestinians want for a future state of their own.