Migron outpost aerial_311.
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
The state agreed on Thursday to delay the impending demolitions of two
unauthorized West Bank outposts built on private Palestinian property – Givat
Assaf and Amona.
Both of the small hilltop communities in the Binyamin
region were scheduled to be evacuated by the end of this year. Instead, the
state notified the High Court of Justice that July was the new demolition date
for Givat Assaf and that Amona would come down at the end of
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Right-wing politicians who had lobbied hard for the delay hailed it
as a partial victory in a stiff struggle to prevent any further demolitions of
“We won the battle, but not the war,” said MK Danny Danon
But attorney Michael Sfard, who represented the Palestinian
landowners at both outposts through the sponsorship of organizations Peace Now
and Yesh Din, bitterly attacked the state’s decision.
government made it clear that it is not the law that rules in Israel, but the
law-breakers,” he said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
angered his party members when he urged them not to invest their energy in
preserving outposts on private Palestinian land.
“We do not need to build
on land that belongs to someone else,” he said.
On Thursday, he and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak asked the High Court to delay the home demolitions
in these two outposts from December of this year to July 2012, so the matter
could be “solved by agreement.” The vague wording puzzled those on both the
Right and the Left.
Still, it was good news for settlement residents and
for right-wing politicians, for whom any delay means a chance to stave off the
razing of homes.
They have now pinned their hopes on Netanyahu’s pledge
to create an outpost committee to reexamine the status of land that the state
has designated as belonging to private Palestinians.
that the state improperly classified the land and that upon closer examination,
it could be determined that the property belongs to the state.
demolitions have become an issue due to a number of court petitions by Peace Now
and Yesh Din against unauthorized construction in West Bank
Already last spring, the state told the court that it was
looking at ways to authorize outpost construction on state land. It promised the
court, however, to raze homes on private Palestinian land by the end of this
On Thursday, it partially backed away from that pledge.
Givat Assaf, the state said it had begun talks with residents about
With regard to Amona, it said it believed the problem could
Nonetheless, the state told the court that it still intends
to take down some of the homes on the Ramat Gilad and Mitzpe Yitzhar outposts in
Samaria. Both of those outposts are only partially built on private Palestinian
The state also still plans to demolish the Migron outpost in
the Binyamin region in March.
Sfard dismissed the state’s remarks about
the possibility of a peaceful resolution in Givat Assaf and Amona. He noted that
the state had a long history of finding reasons for not moving against the
“I don’t believe they need time to negotiate,” he
said. “This is an excuse for not taking action now.”
Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein argued that it wasn’t a
matter of bypassing the law; rather, he said, time was needed to ensure that the
law had been properly interpreted and that all attempts for a peaceful
resolution had been made.
He asserted that it was important to avoid the
kinds of clashes that occurred in 2006 between activists and police, when the
army destroyed nine homes at the Amona outpost.
“We are talking about
avoiding a totally unnecessary battle that would inflame the streets [of Judea
and Samaria],” Edelstein said.