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Israeli court rebukes state over illegal outposts

The Supreme Court gave the government 45 days to explain why it hasn't taken down the illegal outpost of Migron in accord with the 'road map' peace plan.

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Facing evacuation? A small community of mobile homes and two houses known as Migron has been thrust into the middle of the international battle over Israel's settlement outposts in the West Bank.

Debbie Hill/UPI/Newscom/File

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An Israeli government effort to make good on a five-year-old commitment to the US and Palestinians to rein in settlement expansion in the West Bank is coming under legal fire at home.

Under the 2003 "road map" peace plan, Israel promised to remove about two dozen or so unauthorized hilltop outposts as a way to build confidence in Palestinian peace talks, but has so far avoided dismantling the outpost communities for fear of violent clashes with settlers.

This week, the government revealed a compromise reached with the settler leadership aimed at avoiding conflict: Migron, a flagship outpost of 40 families living in mobile homes near the Palestinian city of Ramallah, would be relocated to an already existing settlement.

But at a Supreme Court hearing Wednesday, justices sided with Palestinians who own the land at Migron. Their lawyers argued that the deal allows the government to avoid evacuation during the minimum three years it could take to build new homes.

"I don't believe that Migron will be moved," says Michael Sfard, a lawyer for the settlement watchdog group Peace Now, which represented the Palestinians. "All of these statements are only made to enable more extensions by the courts."

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