Amona residents accept proposal to move, negating need for forceful evacuation

By
December 18, 2016 15:38

The proposal would move 24 of the outpost's families to an 8-dunam site next to the existing location. PM Netanyahu: "We made great efforts to come to an agreed upon solution to Amona."

Amona

Amona. (photo credit:TOVAH LAZAROFF)

The Amona saga, which threatened the country with the specter of a violent evacuation, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a government-toppling crisis, moved toward resolution on Sunday when the outpost’s residents accepted a proposal keeping 24 families on an adjacent parcel of land.

The remaining 16 families will be temporarily relocated down the hill to Ofra, awaiting the government’s plan to allocate a nearby plot of 5 hectares (12.35 acres) of land – classified as abandoned property – for the construction of the new Amona.



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The Amona residents accepted the deal in a vote of 45-25, with two abstentions.

The government will now appeal to the High Court of Justice for a 30-day stay of its demolition order, under which the Amona outpost is to be destroyed because it was built on what was subsequently ruled to be private Palestinian property. The court had set this Sunday, December 25, as the deadline for removing the outpost.


Following the Amona residents’ acceptance of the proposal, the cabinet also approved it, along with NIS 130 million to evacuate the outpost and move the families.

Each family will receive an estimated NIS 1m. in compensation.

The 0.8-hectare plot where the 24 families will be temporarily located is on absentee property just a few hundred meters from the original site. No one has laid claim to this parcel of land, though there is no guarantee that this will not happen in the future.

The proposal was hammered out overnight by Netanyahu, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, and Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz.

Leaders of Amona were also involved in the talks, which concluded at 3 a.m.

After they voted to accept the deal, the Amona residents issued a statement saying that after the High Court ordered the demolition of their homes two years ago, “we began a Sisyphean, determined and never-ending battle to save our homes and our community. After 20 years of pioneering efforts against all odds, after two long years, we decided to postpone the struggle for now, to accept the state’s offer, and to build 52 homes and new public structures in Amona, buildings that will serve the community and its residents.”

The statement said that the residents will “stand guard to determine whether the state will keep its commitment to build homes and public structures in Amona.”

The main difference between the proposal accepted on Sunday, and the one rejected last week, was that in the previous proposal only 12 families would move immediately to the new site, while under the new proposal, that number was doubled to 24.

Before the Amona residents accepted the proposal, Bennett said that the deal would hopefully put the era of settlement evacuations and the idea of two states behind, and herald an era of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Bennett’s comments came as he made his way to Sunday’s cabinet meeting where the proposal was approved.

“We made great efforts to come to an agreed upon solution to Amona,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. “We held dozens of meeting and brought many suggestions, some of them out-ofthe- box. We did this out of a love for the settlement enterprise and out of goodwill. There was never a government that was more concerned about the settlements and the Land of Israel than this one, and there is no government that worries about it more.”

The prime minister said that the leaders of Amona who spent the night in consultations with him and Bennett can testify that “we have done the maximum. I can only hope that the Amona residents who are discussing the proposal now, will accept it. That will be the right decision, for them, the settlement enterprise and all the people of Israel.”

Construction Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu), whose car was set upon by teenagers in Amona when he visited Sunday morning, dismissed the incident as “pebbles against a tank.” He said before the cabinet meeting that there is a small group of bored teenagers making a lot of noise in Amona, fired up by far-right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Galant said he was received well by the Amona residents, and that his message to them was simple: “It is forbidden for there to be a split in Israel, forbidden that they harm IDF soldiers in any way. We are a state governed by laws, we will preserve the law and obey the dictates of the court.”

Galant also said that “we will build up the settlements and continue to build them throughout Judea and Samaria.”

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi) welcomed the decision, and called the Amona residents heroes for “standing strong for the settlement enterprise.”

But Ben-Gvir said the residents’ decision to accept the deal made it “a sad day for the settlement effort.” He lamented that “an opportunity for a struggle that would be engraved in the public’s consciousness was lost,” and said the residents had been misled by “defeatist politicians.”

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said it was good that a violent evacuation had been averted, but it was unfortunately proven that threats of violence work.

“What will be left of Amona is not Zionism, settlement or any other value,” she said. “Amona proved that when facing the government, only force proves victorious.”
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