SEVERAL OF THE 40 homes at the Amona outpost, which the High Court has ruled must be removed by December 25..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to find a solution to the crisis over the pending demolition of the Amona outpost, in an interview he gave over the weekend to Channel 10.
“We’re making a special effort to find a solution to this problem,” Netanyahu said.
He has been under pressure from his own faction to legalize the outpost, despite the High Court of Justice ruling that the 40 modular homes built there illegally on private Palestinian land must be razed by December 25.
Last week, 27 Likud parliamentarians out of the 30-member Knesset faction called on Netanyahu to support a bill that would retroactively authorize not just the outpost, but some 2,000 illegal settler homes in Judea and Samaria.
Netanyahu has been loath to support the legislation, which Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has already stated is unconstitutional. He explained to Channel 10 that he had held a meeting on the matter with Mandelblit, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
“I told them, lets think of other ideas,” he recalled as he explained that he hopes they could find “creative solutions.”
“This is a very complex issue. We’re a law-abiding nation,” said Netanyahu. “We’re talking about the issue of law versus a High Court of Justice ruling,” he added.
National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) dismissed Netanyahu’s comments and said that the proposed legislation, known as the Regulations Act, was not an attempt to circumvent a court ruling.
The legislation simply allows the residents of Judea and Samaria to benefit from the same law that would have applied if their homes were in Tel Aviv, Steinitz told Channel 10. In those cases, compensation would be paid to the landowners and this law offers to compensate the Palestinians.
“If Amona is demolished,” he said, “everyone stands to lose here.”
On Friday, Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi Party head Naftali Bennett attacked Netanyahu and the Likud Party on the issue of Amona and the 2,000 unauthorized homes, even though he himself is also reluctant to support the Regulations Act.
He also pledged that soon both he and Shaked, who is also a member of his party, would present options with respect to both issues.
Certainly, he said, an easy first step would be for Netanyahu to rescind his 2011 policy of razing settler homes on private Palestinian land.
The state’s position should instead be that, “from here on in, we [the state] will authorize these homes,” Bennett said.
The right-wing politician, who was formerly the director- general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, has been under attack from setters for not doing enough on the issue of unauthorized settler homes.
The matter has come to head not just because of Amona, but also because of two other court rulings to demolish 15 modular homes in the Derech Ha’avot outpost of Elazar in the Etzion Bloc and another nine permanent ones in the Ofra settlement.
In all three cases the structures were built without permits on private Palestinian property.
The court has forced the state to take action in response to petitions by left-wing organizations.
To date, the settlers, particularly those from the Amona outpost, have felt that the Likud has been responsive. In a message Bennett sent to his party activists on Friday, he reminded them that the problem was the Likud’s fault, because it was Netanyahu’s policy which placed the homes in danger in the first place.
“Suddenly at the last minute the Likud suddenly woke up to the danger?” he asked. “So they signed the petition. And they yelled about how terrible the High Court is. But they haven’t done the one obvious thing, which is to rescind that policy,” Bennett said.