(photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)
The state asked the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to extend the deadline for evacuating the controversial Amona outpost by 45 days, from this coming Sunday to February 8.
In the petition to the High Court, the state wrote that it required more time to implement its agreement with the residents of Amona, which includes moving 24 families to another part of the hilltop that is not Palestinian-owned and moving another 14 families to Ofra.
“Due to the complexity and the sensitivity and the exclusiveness involved in evacuating an outpost as large as Amona, more time is required,” the petition said.
The state emphasized that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had requested the postponement in order to ensure that the evacuation happens peacefully and that they would not request another delay.
Amona residents released a statement on Tuesday in which they reacted to press reports and social media that portrayed their deal with the state as overly generous toward them. The statement denounced “wicked attacks and lies of leftists and semi-journalists, who have been trying to present us as money-grubbing settlers who cashed in.”
They noted that they pressured the government to include Amona in the settlement regulation bill, which would have given them no state funds and would have cost the state much less. They said they would still rather remain in their current homes and “throw the deal in the trash.”
The Amona residents said the NIS 130 million approved by the government included funding for building a new community within the settlement Shvut Rachel that they rejected as an alternative site for Amona. They said part of the sum would go to nine families who are being evacuated from illegal homes in Ofra.
They lamented that the amount that will actually go to the families will not be enough to cover their mortgages and the loss of property that will be destroyed.
“We and our children are enduring pain as our government and our soldiers prepare to destroy our homes,” they said. “It is strange that we have to explain it, but what we receive in return is merely intended to cover our losses.”
The state’s motion noted a petition by Yesh Din claiming private Palestinian ownership over a portion of the land which was designated to be part of the Amona deal. The state added that the Amona residents were notified of Yesh Din’s opposition and were still willing to go through with the deal.
This could require some of the Amona residents to at least temporarily relocate to another spot. The state put this issue forward as another reason for why a postponement of the evacuation for 45 days was needed.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.