Settlers agree to leave West Bank enclave

2012-06-21 22:32
Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers are seen during clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians near a Jewish settlement. (File, AP)

Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers are seen during clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians near a Jewish settlement. (File, AP)

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Jerusalem - Israel's government said on Thursday that 30 Jewish families have consented to leave an unauthorised West Bank settler outpost, suggesting their court-ordered evacuation could proceed peacefully.

Also tensions on the Israel-Gaza border appeared to calm after three days of violence that killed nine people in Gaza.

The Israeli Supreme Court gave the government until 1 July to dismantle the Ulpana enclave, which was built on privately held Palestinian land. Israel considers such construction illegal, while authorising construction elsewhere on West Bank lands the Palestinians claim for a future state.

The five apartment buildings where the settlers live are to be uprooted and moved to a site nearby. The government said in a statement that it would ask the court for three months to move the buildings.

The government has also vowed to build 300 more homes in a nearby settlement. Settler representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

The flare-up on the Gaza-Israel border was one of the most serious in the three years since the last major conflict there.

More than 100 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel this week, wounding several Israelis, according to Gaza's Hamas rulers. The Israeli military hit back with air strikes against Gaza militants.

Late Wednesday, Hamas released a statement offering to stop the rocket fire if Israel stops its attacks. It said Egypt urged implementation of a truce. A day earlier, the smaller Islamic Jihad released a similar statement, but the exchanges continued.

The flare-up was sparked by an infiltration of gunmen from Egypt's Sinai desert who killed an Israeli worker. Two attackers were killed by Israeli forces.

Israeli officials have been concerned that the increasingly lawless Sinai will become a hinterland for Gaza militants, who can sneak across the Gaza-Egypt border through smuggling tunnels and stage attacks in Israel, which has a long desert border along the Sinai.

- AP

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