State asks to delay Amona outpost evacuation

Outpost is likely to become test case for new gov't regarding policy on unauthorized Jewish building in the W. Bank.

Amona outpost 370 (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Amona outpost 370
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
The state on Sunday asked the High Court of Justice to delay by at least 90 days the evacuation of the West Bank Amona outpost scheduled for the end of April.
More time is needed to present the petition to the government, which was sworn in on March 18, the state told the court on Sunday.
The state asked for 90 days so it could present a response to the court by June 22. It did not propose a new date for an evacuation, but it is assumed this would be after June 22.
If no delay is granted, the 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 MKs, who now belong to the third-largest party in the coalition, have in the past stated their opposition to the demolition of Amona.
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. It is located in the Binyamin region, next to the Ofra settlement.
According to Peace Now there are some 60 structures in Amona.
A 2005 government-commissioned report by attorney Talia Sasson stated that the outpost was built on private Palestinian property without proper permits.
In November 2008, the NGO Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights filed a petition against the outpost before the High Court on behalf of 10 Palestinians who claim to own the land on which it is built.
The state promised the court it would remove the homes, but then in November 2012 it asked for a delay to investigate Jewish purchase claims for some of the property.
The court gave the state until the end of April 2013 to evacuate the outpost.
The state has now asked for an additional delay, and noted again that there are four claims by settlers to have purchased some of the outpost property.
Yesh Din attorney Shlomi Zachary said that in the past the court had rejected attempts to link the property claims with the evacuation of the outpost.
For the claims to be valid, the settlers would need to have received purchase permits from the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria, Zachary said.
He added that to the best of his knowledge no such permits had been issued.
Separately, he said that the outpost is surrounded by private Palestinian property, so that it would not be possible to authorize it without infringing on the property rights of Palestinians.
He charged that the state’s latest request to the court for a delay was yet one more attempt by the government to shirk its legal responsibility.
The outpost is best known for the clashes that took place there on February 1, 2006, when the IDF and police demolished nine permanent homes constructed without proper permits, and more than 300 people were injured.