November 8, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli settlers scuffled with police and soldiers on Monday after security forces razed an illegal West Bank outpost.

Residents of Or Zion, north of Ramallah, protested the demolition of their homes, part of a government order to dismantle all outposts deemed illegal by a recent Israel High Court ruling.

Police arrested 12 residents after they hurled stones at Civil Administration workers carrying out the demolitions.

The plan, slated to conclude by March 2012 following a petition by the Israeli NGO Peace Now to the High Court, will destroy the homes of about 1,000 settlers.

Despite rightist criticism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stuck to the government's decision during a Likud faction meeting on Monday, and vowed to continue the demolitions.

"The settlement movement is important to everyone and to me as well," Netanyahu said during the meeting, "However, our efforts must focus on strengthening our existing settlements and not battling the law."

He called on the settlers to stop building in areas the court deemed as private Palestinian land, but rather within already existing communities, according to local daily Ha'aretz.

The prime minister also pointed out that a recent government decision to build 2,000 new homes after Palestinian National Authority was granted the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) membership, will be done in areas most likely to remain under Israeli control in any peace deal.

Hundreds of settlers and supporters marched from the Supreme Court to the Knesset on Monday afternoon to protest the demolitions.

In recent months, security forces have dismantled several outposts, which has led to similar confrontations with residents.


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