Middle East

Jewish settlers agree to leave Amona site in occupied West Bank

Amona, an unauthorised Israeli outpost in the West Bank, east of the Palestinian town of Ramallah, 6 December 2016 Image copyright AP
Image caption The Supreme Court ruled that the settlement of Amona was illegal

Residents of a Jewish outpost in the occupied West Bank have agreed to evacuate the area just one week before the deadline for eviction.

The community of Amona accepted a government relocation proposal with 45 votes in favour and 29 against.

Sunday's decision comes after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Supreme Court earlier ruled that the homes were built on private Palestinian land.

Families living at the unauthorised site, or outpost, were ordered to leave the area in the northern West Bank by 25 December.

Messages posted on Twitter by representatives of the Amona community said the decision to accept the government proposal was "not an easy one".

"We can definitely say that this decision was the most difficult one we ever took," one tweet reads, while another adds: "All who voted FOR did that with a heavy heart."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Members of the Amona community said the decision was "the most difficult we ever took"

PM Netanyahu said the government had "done the maximum" to find a solution for the residents of Amona after an earlier proposal was rejected last week.

"Until dawn this morning we made very great efforts to reach an agreed solution on Amona," he told ministers at a cabinet meeting.

Anyone who remained at the site after the 25 December deadline faced a forced eviction.

The latest proposal involves moving 24 of the 40 families living in Amona to new adjacent plots not covered by the Supreme Court ruling, local media report.

Mr Netanyahu needs to ask the court for a stay of execution before the new plan is implemented.

The issue of how to deal with the Amona site has caused tension within Israel's right-wing coalition government, with some members opposed to its removal.

According to the anti-settlement movement Peace Now, there are 97 outposts in the occupied West Bank, and over 130 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Unlike officially recognised settlements, the government regards outposts as illegal.

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