THE AMONA OUTPOST is seen in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The government on Sunday approved the transfer of NIS 55 million to allow work to resume on the new settlement of Amihai in the Binyamin region.
It is slated to house the 40 families who were forcibly evacuated from the Amona outpost in February.
“We determined ways to establish the community of Amihai,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly government meeting.
He has often pointed to the March governmental vote to establish the settlement, the first such action in over 20 years, as proof of his unqualified support for the settlement movement.
But budget problems forced the suspension of work on the hilltop outside the Shiloh settlement in the Binyamin region where the new community is slated to be located.
“We decided to move forward there and we encountered a problem, a budgetary problem. And I want to thank you, Minister of the Interior, for solving the problem of budgetary distribution from your ministry and I want to congratulate you,” Netanyahu said.
He added that the government wants “to advance the establishment of the settlement.” The initial plan involves the construction of 102 homes.
The Finance Ministry is now expected to transfer the money to the Binyamin Regional Council to complete the work. An additional NIS 5 million will be given to the Defense Ministry to house the Amona families until their homes are built. At present they are living in the Ofra field school.
The left-wing NGO Peace Now slammed the decision to help the Amona families whose homes were destroyed on the order of the High Court of Justice. It ruled that the outpost had been illegally built on private Palestinian property.
“It’s the height of chutzpah that those who broke the law and ignored the demolition orders and prevented the execution of judicial orders receives such a large portion of the government’s budget,” Hagit Ofran said.
“Netanyahu’s government continues its policy to reward those who break the law," said Ofran. She added that the settler’s requests of him are like “bottomless pit” into which the prime minister keeps falling.
Right-wing and settler leaders thanked Netanyahu for providing the funds, but wasted no time reminding him of a number of unkept promises.
“It is certainly time that the moral heroes of Amona have a home of their own in the Amihai settlement,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said in response.
But he noted that they were not the only outpost evacuees who were waiting for Netanyahu to fulfill his promise.
The 50 Migron families who were forcibly evacuated
from their homes have waited five years for the government to provide them with permanent housing, Ariel said.
The Migron families held a small rally in front of the government meeting in Jerusalem demanding the Netanyahu provide them with permanent housing.
Similarly, Ariel said, Netanyahu has yet to authorize the marketing of 300 new homes for the Beit El settlement. Netanyahu had promised to build the homes in exchange for the peaceful evacuating of 30 families from the Ulpana outpost in 2012.
Beit El Council head Shai Alon said that the budgetary approval for the Amona families was just “a small bit of justice compared to the hardships they endured.”
Housing for the Amona families and the fulfillment of the promise to market the Beit El homes, he said, “will help ensure the prosperity of the Binyamin region and help create an irreversible national reality there.”