Amona outpost 370.
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
A High Court of Justice ruling on the fate of 30 structures in the Amona outpost
late Wednesday night backed Yesh Din’s contention that buildings should be
demolished, but did not set an evacuation date and left room for
The ruling is the latest twist in a long legal battle between
Palestinians and settlers over the fate of one of the oldest West Bank outposts,
located on the outskirts of the Ofra settlement in the Binyamin
The High Court had initially ruled
that the entire outpost should
be evacuated because it was built on private Palestinian property without proper
permits. It issued its ruling in 2012 in response to a 2008 petition by Yesh Din
on behalf of Palestinian landowners for 10 property lots on the outpost, and for
representatives of three villages, whose residents owned the land on which Amona
was constructed. Four of the lots had no structures on them.
state secured a number of court-approved delays to the demolition. In the
interim, Amona residents presented evidence to the court that they had recently
purchased portions of the five lots on which 16 of the Amona families
In an obscurely worded ruling in July, the High Court said that
structures located on plots settlers claimed to have purchased could remain
pending the adjudication of their claims before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s
The structures in Amona on property against which there are no
purchase claims must be removed, the court said.
The court did not state
how many structures should be removed and how many could remain.
ruling was followed by a letter from Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who
stated that the interpretation was that one structure and a 40- meter stretch of
the outpost’s access road should be removed, but that the rest could
remain.Amona residents have since
removed that structure and that
stretch of road.
But Yesh Din contended that the July High Court ruling
meant that 30 homes should be removed. It immediately petitioned the court
against Weinstein’s letter, accusing him of contempt by thwarting the court’s
will for political purposes.
At the heart of the dispute between the
state and Yesh Din with regard to the July court ruling lies a discrepancy
between who is involved in the case.
When Yesh Din initially filed its
2008 petition, it did so against the entire outpost. Its understanding through
the case has been that the issue was the entire outpost.
But the state
argued that the parameters of the petition changed when the High Court accepted
that purchase claims could be part of the case and as a result, allowed 25 Amona
residents be included in the matter.
The state said, according to the new
parameters, the case was now about the six lots and not the entire outpost. It
argued that therefore, the only home that needed to be removed was a structure
on the sixth lot against which there were no settler purchase claims.
Wednesday night the court ruled that Yesh Din was correct and that the petition
was about the entire outpost and was not limited to the six lots. It indicated
that its July ruling had meant that the outpost structures not on five lots
should be removed.
If executed this decision would mean that 26 Amona
families would lose their homes.
However, the court did agree with the
state’s contention that the absence of all these 26 Amona families from the
petition was significant.
Given that the ruling would impact them, it
ruled that they must now be signed onto the petition by September 1.
that point, it said the families had a right to submit a written argument to the
High Court about the matter.
Then, the court said, it would decide
whether to hold another hearing, or to issue a ruling on their argument without
Amona spokesman Avichai Buaron said that he did not believe
those 26 families were part of the case, because the Palestinian owners of the
land on which their homes were built had not petitioned the court.
explained that the Palestinian petitioners represented by Yesh Din only owned
five of the outpost lots. They can not argue that the adjacent property to
theirs should also be evacuated, he said.
“This petition does not apply
to us and that is what we will tell the court,” Buaron said.