Jewish settlers who were evicted by Israeli police from houses in the West Bank city of Hebron will be able to return once proper permits are in place, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday.
Some 80 settlers were removed from apartments in Hebron, a city where tensions between Palestinians and Israelis run high, on Friday when the required approval of occupancy wasn’t given by Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.
The settlers alleged that they had bought the homes from Palestinian owners but a report by the Palestine News Network claims ultra-orthodox illegal settlers broke into two buildings on Thursday and took them over, Yaalon said the settlers had failed to comply with the law and were trespassing.
A fundamental issue in the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process is the existence of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, deemed illegal by most countries.
Netanyahu was criticised by the right-wing coalition partners for supporting Yaalon’s decision to evict settlers, some members threatened to withhold support in parliamentary votes, but the PM said the settlers could take up residency again after completing necessary paperwork.
Netanyahu said his government still “supports the settlements” and would expedite the investigation of the settlers’ case, the moment the purchase process is authorised, he will allow the settlers to return to the two houses in Hebron.
Yaalon called on Israeli lawmakers to “restrain their remarks, support the rule of law and avoid encouraging to take law into their own hands.”
According to the UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, the crisis in the occupied territories is the result of Israel's "stifling and humiliating occupation of Palestinian territories for almost half a century."