High Court delays Amona evacuation until July 15

Court grants final extension to outpost; Yesh Din says decision proves outpost was illegally built on "stolen land."

Amona 2006 clashes 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Amona 2006 clashes 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
At the last moment, the High Court of Justice on Sunday agreed to delay the evacuation of the West Bank Amona outpost until July 15.
Based on a prior court ruling, the IDF and the Border Police had been scheduled to evacuate the outpost – located outside the Ofra settlement in the Binyamin region – by the end of April.
Last month, the state had asked for an extension to allow Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s newly sworn in government time to examine the matter.
Amona outpost is likely to become the first test case for the new government with regard to its policy on unauthorized Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.
Bayit Yehudi politicians, who now belong to the third largest party in the coalition, have in the past stated their opposition to the demolition of Amona.
“The government should do everything possible to prevent the evacuation,” MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) said on Sunday.
In its one-line decision to acquiesce to the state’s request, the High Court said the July 15 evacuation date was the final extension it would grant to the outpost.
It added that the defendants had until June 23 and the petitioners until July 2, to respond to the new deadline set by the court.
The non-governmental organization Yesh Din, which had petitioned the court against the outpost in 2008 on behalf of 10 Palestinians who claim ownership over the outpost’s land, said that Sunday’s decision was a victory.
In past responses to the court, the state has said it is investigating claims by settlers that they have purchased some of the outpost property.
Yesh Din’s attorney Shlomi Zachary said he believed the High Court of Justice on Sunday had rejected those claims, when it stated that this was the “final” extension.
“The court’s decision today closed the ongoing discussion with regard to the Amona outpost,” he said.
He added that it strengthens the contention that the outpost was illegally built on “stolen land.”
“We hope the state will honor the court’s decision without any delays or excuses, as has been done in the past,” Zachary said.
He added that two of the Palestinian petitioners had died since turning to the court and that the others want to return to their land.
Struck said, “The evacuation and destruction of Amona after the attorney general’s office has said that portions of the property have been purchased, would be wanton injustice.”
The Amona outpost spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Built in 1995 with NIS 2.1 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry, Amona is one of the oldest of the West Bank outposts. According to Peace Now there are some 60 structures on the outpost.
A 2005 government commissioned report by attorney Talia Sasson stated that the outpost was built on private Palestinian property without proper permits.
The outpost is best known for the violent clashes that took place there on February 1, 2006, when the IDF and police demolished nine permanent homes constructed there without proper permits.