Amos Harel, Tomer Zarchin
November 25, 2008 - 8:00pm

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the state would use force to evacauate settlers illegally inhabiting a house in the West Bank city of Hebron, if the squatters do not vacate the premises voluntarily.

A High Court of Justice ruling issued last week gave the settlers three days to evacuate, but a loophole was found allowing them to remain for a full 30 days before any force could to be taken.

Barak said the the High Court decision nevertheless stipulates that the house must be evacuated, if not voluntarily then by force. He said the police would attempt the first round of evacuation, and the Israel Defense Forces would be summoned in if reinforcement was needed.

Court: State acted unlawfully on Federman Farm

Also on Wednesday, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the state acted unlawfully in removing far-right settler Noam Federman from the outpost he has set up - the so-called "Federman Farm" - near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba.

In his ruling, Judge Moshe Drori criticized the state for violating international law, insisting that the forced evacuation of the outpost was "disproportionate and unreasonable."

"It is unclear why the state needed 100 policemen to remove one individual from a closed military zone that was sealed for 10 months without any prior warning, without any attempt at negotiation, and without checking on the claims of the other party in this case," the judge ruled.

"The petitioner (Federman) is not suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli towns, which is one of the purposes of the order, and the closure of the area is certainly not intended to apply to the petitioner, since the pretext for the evictin was to prevent 'terrorist infiltration,' and it is inconceivable that the petitioner can be placed into this category.

Court to state: Explain why Migron can't be evacuated

Separately, the High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the government of Israel 45 days to explain why it should not have to dismantle Migron, an illegal outpost built by settlers in the West Bank.

Migron is one of the largest of dozens of unauthorized settlement satellites established since the mid-1990s.

A final ruling on the case would be a watershed in how Israel will deal with the outposts. Israel has failed to keep a long-standing promise to the United States to remove all unauthorized settlements built since 2003.

The state has proposed keeping Migron in place until new homes are built for the settlers in a nearby government-sanctioned settlement.

The Palestinians who own the land on which Migron stands have asked for the immediate eviction of the settlers.

An attorney for the landowners and Peace Now, who both petitioned the High Court on the matter, said the temporary ruling paves the way for an eviction order.

Attorney Michael Sfard accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of deceiving the public over the state's current plan for the outpost.

Sfard branded this as an "attempt that is meant to shirk the obligation to protect Palestinian property."


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