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Middle East

Netanyahu may be forced to destroy settlers' homes

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu is on course for its first major clash with Israeli settlers in the West Bank, before a court deadline expires tomorrow to destroy three homes which have been built without permission in a hilltop outpost near Ramallah.

Israel's high court last month ordered the destruction within 45 days of three permanent dwellings in Migron, an outpost of 48 families mostly living in caravans.

The dwellings were built illegally on land owned by Palestinians. If the government complies, it will be the first time Israel has destroyed permanent settler buildings since 2006, when the bulldozing of nine houses in the Amona outpost triggered violent clashes with Israeli police.

Although illegal, even under Israeli law, Migron was given more than $1m (£612,000) by the Israeli ministry of housing and has a road, water, phone lines, electricity and a permanent army patrol. The high court ordered its closure more than three years ago.

Community leaders and politicians, including prominent members of Mr Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party, pledged their support for the settlers.