Israeli Defence Minister says disputed Hebron house to be cleared of settlers
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that a house in Hebron currently occupied by radical settlers would be evacuated and handed over to the army, until its ownership was decided by the courts, reproted dpa.
The minister spoke after meeting in Tel Aviv with settler leaders, in an attempt to reach a deal on evacuating the building. According to Israeli media, the settlers asked Barak to delay the evacuation, and work to expedite a court hearing on the ownership of the house.
The meeting took place amidst a backdrop of growing violence around the house, which has seen radical settlers attack Palestinians and clash with Israeli soldiers and police.
Settlers occupied the house in the divided West Bank city in early 2007, saying they were the tenants of an American Jew who purchased it and that they have documents proving it. Its Palestinian owner however denies this.
The Israeli supreme court in its November 16 ordered the house be handed over to the state until a lower court rules on its rightful ownership.
But the settlers have refused to move, and their numbers have been bolstered by right-wing radicals, mostly youth, who have flocked to the house in an attempt to prevent its evacuation.
Rioting broke out in the city on Tuesday and continued Wednesday.