JERUSALEM - Israel began the second and final stage on Thursday of the evacuation of the Ulpana settlement outpost in the West Bank, after a deal with residents to build them new homes nearby.
Eighteen families were due to leave their homes on Thursday after a first stage of the court-mandated evacuation was completed peacefully on Tuesday, with 15 families packing up their belongings for transfer.
"After the Tuesday evacuation of 15 families from the neighbourhood, we will finish the operation on Thursday with the remaining 18 families," a defence ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We hope that everything continues to proceed calmly, as has been the case since the beginning," he said.
Israel's High Court has ordered the demolition of 30 apartments in five buildings in Ulpana, a neighbourhood of the Beit El settlement located near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The removal, which is due to occur before July 1, was ordered because the homes were built on private Palestinian land. Three other families in mobile homes on the land were also ordered to move.
An agreement reached between the settlers and the government last week ensured a peaceful evacuation in return for Israel constructing 300 new homes in Beit El.
The evacuated homes will be removed and transported to new locations, rather than being destroyed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's largely right-wing coalition, which leans heavily on the settler movement for support, has repeatedly sought to stall implementation of the court's judgement.
And while the affected residents are moving before the July 1 deadline, the government has asked the High Court to grant a four-month delay on the moving of the buildings affected by the ruling. The court has yet to respond.
Israel considers settler outposts built without government approval in the West Bank to be illegal, but the international community views all settlements in occupied territory as unlawful, whether approved by the government or not.