Amona settlers reject new state plan to avoid violent demolition

On Wednesday the Knesset plans to hold the first of three necessary votes to turn the Regulations Bill into law.

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November 29, 2016 04:22
3 minute read.
ISRAELI POLICEMEN gather in 2006 to remove the outpost of Amona.

ISRAELI POLICEMEN gather in 2006 to remove the outpost of Amona.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Residents of the West Bank Amona outpost early Tuesday morning rejected the latest attempt by the state to avoid a violent demolition of their hilltop community on December 25.

“The public will not tolerate the destruction of Amona,” said community spokesman Avihai Boaron.

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He spoke just hours after 120 Religious Zionist Rabbis, from all parts of the country, published a letter calling on their followers to head to Amona and help its residents resist the forced evacuation.

Shortly after the publication of their letter, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit put forward a compromise in hopes of avoiding such a showdown.

He said it was possible in cases of “urgent public need” to make use of the abandoned property law to temporarily relocate Amona for “eight months: to three lots on a northern part of the same hilltop, where it is currently located.

But Mandelblit cautioned that these plots could not serve as a permanent site for the community.

Boaron said in response: “Mandelblit’s compromise is not a solution at all for the Amona residents. It’s ridiculous and humiliating.”

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“It’s put forward by someone who doesn’t see the dozens of families and hundreds of children who have built their life’s work here for the last 20 years,” Boaron said.

“We’re not objects that can be carted from place to place every couple of months,” he said.

“We won’t agree to be uprooted from our homes only to are thrown out again in another eight months,” Boaron said.

The Amona community sees only two possible solutions. The first is a Regulations Bill, that retroactively legalize more than 2,000 unauthorized homes in Judea and Samaria, including Amona. Compensation would be paid to Palestinians in cases where the homes were built on their property.

Should such a legislative attempt fail, Boaron said, then there will be no other option, but a forced evacuation with painful scenes of families being torn from their homes.

In this way, he said, it will be clear to everyone that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ministers in his government are responsible for uprooting Jews.

Amona was first built in 1995 with a NIS 2.1 million grant from the Minister of Housing and Construction. It is best known for the clashes between security forces and right wing activists, during the court ordered demolition of nine permanent homes in 2006.

Mounted Israeli police scuffle with pro-settler supporters at the Amona outpost, February 1, 2006. Credit: Reuters

The High Court of Justice ordered the demolition of the Amona outpost in 2014, because it was built without permits on private Palestinian property.

It did so after the non-governmental group Yesh Din petitioned the court on behalf of the Palestinian landowners.

Yesh Din also slammed Mandelblit’s compromise, accusing him of caving into political pressure and making a decision that both harmed the rule of law and property rights.

“We petitioned the court so that residents of the villages near Amona could return to their homes,” Yesh Din said. “We will continue to fight with them for their rights,” he added.

On Wednesday the Knesset plans to hold the first of three necessary votes to turn the Regulations Bill into law.

Although the bill has the support of the Bayit Yehudi faction and most of the Likud faction, it is still unclear if it has enough support with in the coalition to ensure its passage for all three votes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not publicly supported the bill and in the past has shied away from legislative attempts to legalize setter homes en-mass.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu told the Knesset the High Court of Justice ruling would be carried out and that he believed the Amona families would agree in the end to voluntarily relocate.

The bill comes precisely as the Palestinians are pushing to submit a United Nations Security Council resolution on settlements.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu reportedly told the security cabinet this week, that it could also harm Israel at the International Criminal Court, which is now weighing whether or not to pursue Israel on the issue of Gaza and the West Bank settlements.

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