Amona residents partying as eviction looms.
(photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)
The state has not found a way to keep the 40 Amona families on the hilltop, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said on Tuesday, admitting that the deal between the settlers and the government had failed.
“In the end, unfortunately, we were not able to make this deal happen,” Hotovely said, as she spoke at a conference on applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, called “End the Occupation.”
“We knew from the start that it would be difficult,” Hotovely told the conference, which was located just outside the Bar-Ilan University campus in Petah Tikva.
The High Court of Justice has ordered that the outpost must be destroyed by February 8, because it was built without permits on private Palestinian property.
The state had amended the abandoned property law in Judea and Samaria, in hopes that it would able to relocate the families to alternative plots of land on the same hilltop. However, Palestinian landowners are opposed to moving the outpost to the alternative plots.
But the state is not abandoning the families, Hotovely said. It has committed itself to relocating the outpost to another place in the Binyamin region, where it can create a legal settlement.
Such a relocation has occurred before in the history of the settlement enterprise, said Hotovely, as she pointed to the history of the Elon Moreh settlement, which was relocated and has since flourished.
“What is most important is that Amona exists and can flourish, just like Elon Moreh,” Hotovely said.
But the Amona families are pushing rightwing lawmakers to continue to support their battle to remain on the same hilltop, which is just outside of the Ofra settlement in the Binyamin region.
Amona families held an emergency meeting at the outpost on Tuesday night in which they called lawmakers to pass a bill which would retroactively legalize 4,000 homes on private Palestinian property. The bill, which is now in preparations for a second and third reading excludes Amona, because of the existing court ruling.
The families, however, want the law to also be applied to them. They have said that since the state was not able to come up with a solution to relocate them to the same hilltop, they no longer feel obligated to abide by an agreement in which they said they would peacefully leave their homes.
The Palestinian landowners of property on the hilltop, along with the village of Silwad, has petitioned to the High Court of Justice to dissolve the agreement. A hearing on that matter has been set for January 31.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke of Amona when he issued a withering attack on Tuesday on the current government, and implicitly against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing it of acting irresponsibly over settlement issues and ignoring the rule of law.
Ya’alon’s speech at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, focused on the duties and responsibilities of leadership, and stating outright that country’s current leadership should be replaced.
In particular, the former defense minister argued that the “pioneering residents” of Amona should have been told by the government from the start that their homes could not be retroactively legalized, and that a legal solution should have been found.
Ya’alon also denounced the settlements arrangements bill which would legalize almost 4,000 settlement homes built on private Palestinian land, accusing the government of adopting this path because it was the popular thing to do.
“Leadership would not use such political manipulation and vote for the settlements arrangements bill, which they had said beforehand is illegal and would lead us to the International Criminal Court for war crimes in the Hague,” noted Ya’alon, a direct reference to Netanyahu’s comments against the bill, which was nevertheless approved in its first Knesset reading.