Settler leaders sharply attacked, on Wednesday, the acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for calling the army to devise a plan to evacuate 20 illegal outposts in the West Bank, and to evacuate by force illegal squatters in the Hebron market.

 
They considered these orders as a declaration of war against them.
 
The Yesha Council of settlements released an official statement on Wednesday sating that Olmert must "study the complicated subject", the illegal outposts, "before going out and harshly attacking with a declaration of war", according to the statement.
 
The council added that Olmert should not be bound to go after "bad solutions suggested to him by his ministers who are competing among themselves to see who can set the bigger fire".
 
Olmert’s office informed, on Wednesday, leaders of the Yesha Council of settlements that he is canceling a meeting with settler leaders scheduled for next week.
 
The decision was made after the violent clashes between settlers and soldiers in Hebron.
 
The council stated that this is the first time that the Israeli government and the Prime Minister had cut off all communication with settler leaders.
 
The council stated that they want to reach a compromise regarding the illegal outposts, but now "they [the government] should not be surprised if the fire grows and becomes harder or even impossible to put out".
 
The statement was made after Olmert ordered the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, to prepare a plan for the evacuation of 20 illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank.
 
Olmert said that these outposts, in Hebron and elsewhere, are undermining the rule of law.
 
Olmert also warned that the market, which was occupied by settlers in Hebron in 2002, would be evacuated by force if settlers refused to leave voluntarily.
 
His statements came after several days of rioting; hundreds of young settlers flooded into Hebron, attacked Palestinian homes and residents; stores and homes were set on fire.
 
The market was occupied by eight Jewish families who have been settling in Palestinian-owned property there for the last four years.
 
In spite that several eviction orders were issued, the settlers remained there.
 
Dan Halutz, Israeli Army Chief of Staff, said that the situation inflamed because the settlers got used to Israel’s policy and its "forgiving attitude" to their attacks against the Palestinians. 
 
He added that the settlers seem more committed to creating the state in the West Bank rather than maintaining the existing State of Israel.
 
 
Also, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni warned that "the conflict between settlers and the government is a struggle for supremacy."
 
Apart from Hebron, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered, on Wednesday, a week-long delay in the demolition of the Amouna illegal settlement outpost, north of the West Bank.
 
Settlers built nine illegal houses and settle led there; Israel delayed the demolition of the illegal outpost, constructed on private Palestinian property, in order to give the settlers a "legal period" to appeal the demolition orders.
 
The court also rejected an appeal by the Peace Now organization to destroy the buildings.
 
Police heads have allocated more than 1,000 policemen to participate in evacuating Amouna outpost; settlers hope to bring thousands of people in to resist the demolitions.
 
The state had promised the High Court that it would demolish the nine houses by the end of January.
 
Settler attacks were not limited on the Palestinians, their homes, and the Israeli police, but also targeted international aid workers present in Hebron.
 
International aid workers in Hebron reported they were attacked by settlers near the Jewish settlement of Beit Hadassah last Saturday.
 
The aid organization, Temporary International Presence in Hebron, reported that dozens of extremist settlers attacked five of its members, mostly Americans, and injured several members; two of the injured required further treatment.
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