Legality of new Amona outpost challenged

The custodian is subservient to the attorney-general, meaning the motion ultimately will be decided by Avichai Mandelblit.

By
December 20, 2016 08:42
2 minute read.
Amona

‘THERE WILL be war over Amona,’ the graffiti reads at the outpost in the Binyamin region of Samaria in the West Bank. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The state sent a team of infrastructure and security experts on Monday to the Amona hilltop outpost to start planning the site where 24 homes will be built according to an agreement reached between Amona residents and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day before.

According to the deal, the current Amona outpost, which was built on privately owned Palestinian land, will be demolished in accordance with the decision of the High Court of Justice and 24 families will be moved to a different part of the same hill on absentee property.

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To facilitate the move, the state is expected to ask the court to delay the December 25 deadline for the outpost’s demolition for a month.

However, the left-wing non-governmental organization Yesh Din filed a motion with the Custodian of Absentee Property on Monday declaring that the Amona residents cannot be moved to the site intended for them by the government because that land is also private Palestinian property. The custodian is subservient to the attorney-general, meaning the motion ultimately will be decided by Avichai Mandelblit.

The Yesh Din motion states that the plot in question, Plot 38, is around 90% owned by individual Palestinians and it was being cultivated or otherwise in use until 1997. The NGO said that the land could even be said to be included within the prior decision of the High Court outlawing building on private Palestinian land in the Amona area. Yesh Din accuses the state of “choosing to ignore this.”

If the attorney-general or the High Court were to decide that the land is not “abandoned,” the entire Amona deal could be in jeopardy.

The Amona campaign toned down its rhetoric against the government on Monday. After the campaign released a statement Sunday night threatening to restart its struggle if the government does not keep its part of the deal, the settlers released a statement claiming its goals had been achieved and that Amona residents would honor the terms of the agreement.

MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) was among several opposition MKs who came out against the cost of the planned evacuation of Amona residents, specifically a NIS 1 million grant to each family.

“If there is true Zionism in the hearts of the people of Amona, if they truly love Israel, they should not take a shekel of what was offered them...and they would be appalled by the thought that because of them, funding to weak, sick and disabled people will be cut,” she wrote on Facebook.

“Instead, they should say that they will be evacuated peacefully and that they plan to transfer the NIS 130 million the government arranged for them...to families in crisis, to the elderly, to Holocaust survivors, to children who go to school without a sandwich. That is true Zionism.”

Similarly, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said the money was being spent and “time and resources of thousands of police officers and soldiers is being wasted just to not irritate a few dozen people who illegally built houses on stolen land...The first people who will be hurt by this are residents of the periphery and weaker populations, who deserve normal education, health and welfare services.”

MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) responded to the backlash on Twitter: “Did someone calculate how much the delusion of evacuating all settlers would cost? Keep talking about two states, evacuating settlements.”


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