Israel’s supreme court on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of an illegal Jewish settlement built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. In the initial petition for its removal back in 2006, both the court and the Israeli government admitted that the outpost of some 250 Jewish settlers was illegal, but delayed doing anything about it for five years.
There is pressure for Israel to dismantle various other settlements built on Palestinian land, but Israeli leaders have been reluctant to do so, partly due to the violent response such moves tend to elicit from settlers.
Indeed, Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank rose "alarmingly" in the first half of 2011, according to a United Nations report on Tuesday. The report said that 700 people had been displaced and 356 structures demolished so far this year, compared with 594 and 431, respectively, for the whole of 2010.
The demolitions, mostly targeting "already vulnerable Bedouin and herding communities," are taking place in the 60 percent of the West Bank that is designated as under full Israeli control. Palestinian development is allowed on only one percent of this land, making it "virtually impossible for a Palestinian to obtain a permit for construction, while Israeli settlements receive preferential treatment in the allocation of water and land, and approval of development plans," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said.