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Report: Israel evacuates two small West Bank outposts

By Xinhua

Jerusalem : The Israeli army on Wednesday evacuated two small unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, the English daily Jerusalem Post reported, quoting security officials as saying.

Israeli police and army troops arrived at the first outpost, Harchivi, near the West Bank city of Nablus, and the five settlers there fled at the sight of the forces, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld was quoted by the newspaper. No arrests were made.

At the second outpost, Shvut Ami, also near Nablus, around 20 teenage protesters gathered at the scene before Israeli forces arrived, laying down barbed wire and rocks on the road and posting signs.

Some protesters laid down on the floor of one of the two incomplete structures at the site, but were carried out by Israeli police.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said earlier this week that the outposts’ continued presence was a disgrace, calling for evacuation of unauthorized outposts.

However, senior defense officials close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak accused Olmert of holding up a detailed plan to remove them. The plan has been presented to Olmert at least three times and could be ready for implementation within weeks if he approved it, the officials said.

According to the proposal, a majority of the outposts would be evacuated while some — built on entirely Jewish-owned land — would be incorporated into existing settlements.

Outposts range from a single trailer on a hill to thriving settlements with red-roofed homes and hundreds of people. Settlers put them up to prevent the transfer of the disputed land to the Palestinians in any future peace deal.

Jewish settlers started putting up outposts across the West Bank after Israel committed itself to a settlement freeze in its initial peace accords with the Palestinians in the early 1990s.

Some 3,000 Israelis live in outposts, according to Peace Now organization, along with 270,000 who live in 122 authorized settlements in the West Bank and 180,000 who live in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after the 1967 Six-Day War.