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Israel to destroy 9 illegal West Bank settler homes

A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim is seen near Jerusalem July 25, 2013. Israeli and Palestinian officials put forward clashing formats for peace talks due to resume in Washington on Monday for the first time in nearly three years after intense U.S. mediation. It is unclear how the United States hopes to bridge the core issues in the dispute, including borders, the future of Jewish settlements on the West Bank, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. Picture taken July 25, 2013. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS)

TEL AVIV, Feb 28 — Israeli forces were set yesterday to evacuate and demolish nine settler homes built on private Palestinian land, after the supreme court rejected a last-minute request to only seal the structures.

The same court had ordered the homes in the Ofra settlement be demolished by March 5.

Their residents had filed the petition after parliament passed a law earlier this month determining that settler homes and outposts built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank could be legalised under certain conditions.

The petitioners asked that the court allow the homes to be sealed rather than demolished in case they would be able to apply the new law to the homes in the future.

In its ruling yesterday, however, the court noted the law was not applicable to homes and plots on which courts had already ruled, such as the Ofra buildings.

Public radio reported that security forces had already entered one of the nine homes to prevent youths from inhabiting it to oppose the eviction.

It said the Ofra leadership was intent on preventing violent clashes with security forces such as those that took place during the eviction of the nearby Amona outpost three weeks ago, where youths barricaded themselves in the synagogue and wounded Israeli forces with stones and acid.

International law considers all settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it has authorised and those built without official permission.

Most of the international community considers settlements an obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. — AFP

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