Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed strong support for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank Sunday amid increasing pressure from hardline coalition members over an incident in the flashpoint settlement of Hebron.
"The government supports settlement at any time, especially now when it is under terrorist assault and is taking a courageous and determined stand in the face of terrorist attacks," Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
Israeli troops on Friday removed several dozen settlers from two buildings in Hebron which the settlers had entered the previous day, saying they had bought them from Palestinians.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who authorized the removal, said the settlers had not received authorization to enter the buildings and were there illegally.
Israel will allow the settlers to return once their paperwork is in order, Netanyahu said.
Hebron is a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with several hundred Jewish settlers living in the heart of the city under heavy military guard among around 200,000 Palestinians.
The Israeli leader heads a coalition with only a one-seat majority in parliament, making him especially vulnerable to the demands of religious nationalists in his cabinet regarding settlements, which much of the international community opposes.