Chief Palestinian Authority Negotiator Saeb Erekat criticized the Israeli government on Wednesday as forces began an operation to evict settlers from the Amona outpost.From his office in Jericho, Erekat said the eviction of Amona outpost, which came hours after Israel announced plans for 3,000 more settlement homes in the West Bank, was an act of "political blindness." "The Israeli government balance is very awkward, they are evacuating 40 settlement homes in Amona and compensating the illegal settlers with 3,000 housing settlement units. This is political blindness, this is arrogance of powers. And as I said the only venue to react to this is the international criminal court," Erekat told Reuters.
Erekat spoke as Israeli police started moving into Amona to remove residents who Israel's Supreme Court ruled have been living illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land.The residents and dozens of pro-settlement activists who flocked to the Amona outpost to protest against the evacuation clashed with the forces as they marched in.Palestinian resident of Taybeh, Essa Zayied, one of the owners of the land on which Amona was established, watched the eviction from a far.Zayied told Reuters he dreamt of getting his land back but said he feared the Israeli army would gain control of the strategic area.''We are afraid that when the settlers are gone, the Israeli soldiers would take over the place because it is a strategic and high position on top of a mountain... and turn it into a military zone," Zayied said.The announcement of a planned construction of additional 3,000 Israeli homes in the West Bank was the third such declaration in 11 days since US President Donald Trump took office. Trump has signaled he could be more accommodating toward such projects than his predecessor Barack Obama.An announcement a week ago by Israel that it would build some 2,500 more homes in the West Bank drew rebukes from the Palestinians and from the EU. It followed approval of more than 560 new homes in east Jerusalem days before.
Israeli forces begin evacuating Amona