World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel's Supreme Court on Sunday granted the state a four-month extension to remove five apartment blocks built illegally on Palestinian-owned land in a Jewish settlement on the occupied West Bank.
The court had ruled the homes, in the Ulpana neighbourhood of the Beit El settlement, must be torn down by July 1.
The 30 families who lived in the buildings moved out last week to nearby temporary accommodation under a deal with the government to go quietly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to construct 851 new settlements in the occupied West Bank.
In granting an extension until Nov. 15, the court said the demolition could be delayed now that the dwellings it deemed illegal were empty.
About 311,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the occupied West Bank. The United Nations deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal. But Israel has sanctioned 120 settlements.
Palestinians have made a freeze on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem a condition for returning to peace talks, which broke down over the issue in 2010.
Netanyahu's cabinet voted Sunday to back out of the hard-won deal, provoking a flood of criticism and warnings it could damage Israel's relationship with the United States' influential Jewish community.
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