Israel has begun the evacuation of an illegal West Bank settlement after a court ordered that it be dismantled.
According to The New York Times, more than 100 officials from Israel’s Defense Ministry arrived at the unauthorized Ulpana outpost on Tuesday morning to help the first of 30 families move to temporary accommodation in the adjoining settlement of Beit El.
The Ulpana settlement had been ruled illegal as it is located on private Palestinian land. However, in what is widely viewed as a sop to Israel’s settler movement and right-wing members of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, the prime minister ordered that 300 new homes be built in Beit El, according to the BBC. All Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered to represent a breach of international law.
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The Palestinian Authority played down Tuesday’s move to relocate the Ulpana settlers, with spokesman Ghassan Khatib saying that Netanyahu’s order of further settlement-building in Beit El undermined the evacuation, the Associated Press reported.
Talks between both sides broke down almost four years and have yet to resume, in large part because Israel argues talks should proceed with no preconditions while the Palestinians have demanded an immediate freeze on settlement building before resuming negotiations.