A Jewish man holds his son at a vineyard belonging to Mitzpe Kramim, east of Ramallah in the West Bank.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The West Bank outpost of Mitzpe Kramim has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset to ensure that their community of almost 50 families is legalized.
“Time is not on our side,” Mitzpe Kramim resident Haim Yamin said on Sunday.
The outpost is a neighborhood within the boundaries of the Kochav Hashahar settlement, which is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
The residents have watched with concern the way the story has played out for the Amona outpost, which is located just a short distance away from their community.
The High Court of Justice has ordered that the Amona outpost must be demolished by December 25 because it was built without permits on private Palestinian property.
Mitzpe Kramim is similarly defending itself against a petition to the High Court by Palestinians who claim ownership of the land. The lesson learned from Amona is that the government and or the Knesset must act to save the homes before any ruling is issued by the court.
The Mitzpe Kramim families wrote a letter last week to the prime minister, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, asking for their homes to be saved.
The outpost issued the plea just after the Knesset approved the settlements bill for a first reading last week.
The bill would legalize 4,000 homes on private Palestinian property while offering the Palestinian landowners compensation.
Homes which the High Court has rule must be destroyed are excluded from the bill, however, such as those in the Amona outpost, nine homes in the Ofra settlement and 15 in the Derech Ha’avot outpost.
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will examine the diplomatic implications of the legislation on Monday, while the special committee created for the bill will prepare it for the second and third (final) readings before December 25.
Lawmakers hope that if it passes, they will be able to convince the Amona families to evacuate their homes willingly.
But Netanyahu would prefer that the Knesset deal with the legislation after President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20.
The state is expected to ask the High Court this week to delay the Amona evacuation until January 25.
Yamin said his community does not want to rely on the bill and would prefer to see lawmakers act independently to authorize their homes.
Mitzpe Kramim was first built in the 1990s on state land outside of Kochav Hashahar, Yamin explained.
In 1999, former prime minister Ehud Barak moved the outpost to its current location within Kochav Hashahar as part of what was then known as the “outpost deal.”
The neighborhood was considered to be part of the settlements master plan. Two permanent homes were built in 2005 and work was begun on another 14 in 2011.
It was at that point that Palestinians petitioned the court against the outpost, claiming ownership.
Families have since moved into the homes, but a court injunction prevents the final completion of the project.
The High Court sent the case to a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court so that land ownership could be examined.
The state is expected to provide a response to the issue on Thursday and an update will also be provided to the High Court later this month.
But Yamin and the Mitzpe Kramim families are asking the government to intervene by simply legalizing their homes.
“The government created this situation and it has a responsibility to fix it,” Yamin said.