THE OFRA SETTLEMENT is seen from the Amona outpost in the West Bank..
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria has approved the construction of modular homes for 15 families from the Netiv Ha’avot outpost whose permanent homes are slated for demolition by March 6.
It issued its approval on Monday and with three weeks left until the demolition date, set by the High Court of Justice, work has yet to begin on the homes. Residents of the outpost had begun holding protests last summer, demanding that the government provide them with alternative housing within the outpost.
Settlers are concerned that the modular homes will not be completed in time and the state is likely to ask the court to delay the evacuation until the completion of the new homes.
The government has stated that it intends to authorize the outpost, which is located within the boundaries of the Elazar settlement in Gush Etzion. Legal issues have delayed that move.
Without such an authorization, the Higher Planning Council cannot approve new building in the outpost, which is home to 26 other families. The new temporary housing site is therefore in an unbuilt area within the jurisdiction of the nearby Alon Shvut settlement.
The court has ruled that the 15 homes must be demolished after a 2014 land survey found that they were not constructed on state land and therefore cannot become legal with the rest of the outpost.
Gush Etzion Council head Shlomo Ne’eman said he saw the move as a decision to expand settlement in his region, but regretted that it took a “delusional” decision by the High Court to make it happen.
It could take several months to complete the construction, he said, calling on the court to delay the demolition as a humanitarian gesture to the families.
The outpost was illegally built in 2001 with NIS 300,000 from the Construction Ministry on land that the settlers believed was not privately owned by Palestinians.
The left-wing organizations of Peace Now and Yesh Din have filed multiple cases to the High Court on behalf of the Palestinian village of El-Khader, which claims that the land falls within the jurisdiction of their village.
This includes sections of the outpost that is now classified as state land.
According to Peace Now the new temporary housing site would also fall within the jurisdiction of El-Khader, which had unsuccessfully opposed the Higher Planning Council’s decision.
Separately, the council also approved the construction of 68 new homes in the Elazar settlement.
According to Peace Now, the land slated for those homes was “once privately owned by Palestinians but was seized for military use in the 1970s and now is being used for civilian settlement.”