Israeli settlers agree to leave illegal Amona outpost

Government deal to avoid clash approved by Jewish families occupying private Palestinian land in occupied West Bank.

Israeli settlers preparing for Amona evacuation
Netanyahu had earlier called on the outpost residents to accept the deal [EPA]

Israeli Jewish settlers of a settlement in the occupied West Bank have agreed to a plan to relocate their hilltop outpost peacefully that could allow the government to avoid a potentially violent clash.

The 40 families living at Amona, northeast of Ramallah, face a high court order to leave the site by December 25 because it was found to have been built on private Palestinian land.

The approaching deadline led to efforts to resolve peacefully the situation, with the settlers refusing to leave and several hundred Jewish youths streaming into the outpost in recent days in support.

However, after hours of a debate on Sunday, outpost residents approved a revised government proposal to relocate by a vote of 45 for and 29 against, a spokesman wrote on the outpost’s Twitter account.

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“After 20 years of pioneering settlements against all odds, and after two long years, we have decided to suspend the struggle,” Amona residents said in a statement.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, had earlier pressured outpost residents to accept the deal, saying “we have done the maximum”.

“Until dawn this morning we made very great efforts to reach an agreed solution on Amona,” he said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Signals from Trump

Since Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war, it has built about 120 formal settlements in the territory.

Most of the world deems them illegal and an obstacle to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In addition to the main settlements that Israel fully supports, settlers have created over 100 outposts.

Many of them are located on hilltops across the West Bank, often built with tacit government backing.

Right-wing politicians in Israel have been buoyed by signals from US President-elect Donald Trump of a more accepting US stance on illegal settlements.

Trump has said he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would break long-standing US foreign policy and anger the Muslim world.

Source: News Agencies