The Supreme Court has ordered the state to evacuate the largest unauthorized outpost in the West Bank, Amona, by the end of April.
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The justices did not give reasons for their decision but ordered the state to provide a situation update by March and ordered the residents to submit a position paper outlining their stance.
The order for the state to brief the court in March appears to be an effort to learn whether the state and outpost residents will come to an agreement on a peaceful evacuation and how many structures would be demolished. The decision was made by a three-judge panel led by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis
The court had initially required that the outpost be evacuated by the end of 2012, but in November the state requested a six-month deferral. In its ruling on Sunday, the court consented to a four-month extension.
Amona, which is in the northern West Bank between Jerusalem and Nablus, was established in 1995 on a hill overlooking the settlement of Ofra. It is largely built on land owned by Palestinians.
Over the years, trailers and other light structures have been set up there, although courts have issued demolition orders. In 2006, in response to a petition by Peace Now, the state demolished nine houses at the outpost. Hundreds of people trying to stop the demolitions were injured in clashes with police.
Currently about 50 homes remain there, in addition to a religious boys' school, a winery and other buildings. In 2008, most of the Palestinian landowners joined the Israeli group Yesh Din to demand that the entire outpost be demolished.
In response, the state agreed that the construction was illegal and that the outpost should be dismantled. But the state added that the timing should conform with "the state's priorities."
In 2011, then-Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch ordered the state to explain why all steps should not be taken to demolish the outpost; the state then announced that the site would be evacuated by the end of 2012.
In November 2012, the state asked for a deferral until June, saying it needed more time. It noted, however, that the IDF's Civil Administration in the West Bank had received documents purportedly showing that settlers had bought a quarter of one of the plots and that the documents were being examined.