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Settlers begin leaving West Bank outpost

The Israeli military says settlers have started leaving the unauthorized outpost of Migron in the occupied West Bank. Their departure comes in response to a Supreme Court eviction order.

A military spokeswoman said on Sunday that a number of families had begun to move out of their homes in an orderly fashion. The hilltop settlement, built without authorization more than a decade ago, comprises some 50 families.

An Israel Radio report said that although most were moving voluntarily, a few settlers said they would remain despite the Supreme Court ruling last year that the settlement must be cleared, as it was built on private Palestinian land.

A final appeal for the evacuation to be delayed was rejected by the court last week, and a police spokesman said officers had started handing eviction orders to the families before dawn on Sunday. The court ruling gave settlers until Tuesday to move out.

Scores of police are on hand to prevent unrest, but so far there has been no sign of violent protest from settlers determined to stay put.

Bone of contention

Settlement watchdog Peace Now has welcomed the ruling, but some settlers have described the eviction order as "brutal rape."

Jewish settlements built on territory Israel captured in a 1967 war is one of the main stumbling blocks preventing a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. The talks stalled in late 2010.

The United Nations and most of the international community deem all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal, but Israel sanctions some 120 of them, while rejecting about 100 unauthorized outposts, such as Migron.

Several have been demolished by Israeli security personnel.

tj/slk (Reuters, AFP)