(Updates with Palestinian comment in fifth paragraph.)
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed building homes for Jewish settlers on state- owned land in the West Bank to replace houses in the adjacent outpost of Migron, which a court has declared illegal.
Netanyahu discussed the proposal today at a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem following an Israeli court order that the current homes must be demolished by March 31, his office said in a text message.
Netanyahu’s government said 10 months ago that all outposts like Migron that were built illegally on private Palestinian land would be removed by the end of 2011. Army efforts to evacuate the outposts have led to violent conflicts with settlers. Migron is home to about 50 families and is not among the approximately 100 settlements in the West Bank that have been authorized by the Israeli government.
The Palestinian Authority, the United Nations and the U.S. consider all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal. Israeli-Palestinian broke down in September 2010 after Netanyahu refused to renew a 10-month freeze on settlement-building and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ruled out negotiations while West Bank construction continues.
“The settlements are illegal but Netanyahu is using this to try to legalize them at a time when he is being criticized by the whole world,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a telephone interview.
The Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said the plan is an attempt to circumvent the court order.
“Netanyahu’s proposal is a cynical spin designed to not have to implement the Court’s decision,” Peace Now said in an e-mailed statement.
Migron is one of the about 100 outposts that haven’t received government approval.
Israel, which captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war, says the territories are “disputed” and their status can be determined only in direct Middle East peace negotiations, which have been frozen for the past 15 months.
--Editors: Louis Meixler, Francis Harris, Andrew Barden.
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