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Israeli settlers to cease illegal occupation of West Bank outpost, regional council says

Israeli settlers to cease illegal occupation of West Bank outpost, regional council says
Israeli settlers who illegally established an outpost in the occupied West Bank near the village of Beita have agreed to vacate the site amid heightened tensions in the region over the forced evictions of Palestinians.

Clashes last month in the West Bank saw 34 Palestinians lose their lives, reportedly the highest monthly death toll in a decade, as the Israeli military cracked down on opposition to the settlement and protests against evictions of Palestinians.

Givat Eviatar became a central site for clashes when Israeli settlers held their ground despite their presence being deemed an illegal occupation. However, following an agreement reached by the Israeli government, the settlers will leave the area by Friday, according to the Samaria Regional Council.

While the decision to vacate addresses one of the concerns raised by Palestinians, the settlement will not be demolished or handed over – instead it will be turned into a base for the Israeli military.

Before the Israel-run council announced that an agreement had been reached, a court had imposed an eviction notice after ruling that the settlers had built 50 homes illegally on private Palestinian land and were destabilizing security in the region.

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The situation marks something of a first test for newly-appointed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose party supports the settlers but is propped up in government by a coalition that includes Arab parties that back the Palestinians.

Internationally, Israel has been repeatedly condemned for its efforts to evict Palestinians and create settlement outposts in the region, with the UN warning that attempting to displace people from the occupied territories could constitute a war crime. Tel Aviv has maintained that its citizens have a right to land that the Israeli government historically claims belongs to the Jewish people.

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