State: Settlers rebuilt illegal road to Amona outpost in violation of court agreement

The Amona outpost was established in 1995 and is home to 42 families.

Amona outpost 370 (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Amona outpost 370
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Settlers have rebuilt an illegal road on Palestinian property that serves as an access route to their homes in the West Bank Amona outpost.
Such action is in violation of their promise to the High Court of Justice to travel solely on an alternative, legal, route, the state prosecutor’s office said last week.
“It goes without saying that such criminal construction [by settlers], particularly given that it is a repeat offense and a violation of their obligation to the court, is intolerable,” wrote Deputy Attorney-General Dina Zilber.
She made this statement in a letter to attorney Shlomi Zachary who represents the Palestinian land owners on behalf of the Israeli nongovernmental group Yesh Din. The letter was made public late Wednesday night.
On the same day the state also filed a complaint on the High Court of Justice.
In July 2013, the High Court had ruled that the outpost must remove 40 meters of its main paved access road linking it to the neighboring settlement of Ofra and from there to Route 60 in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
It similarly asked that the outpost remove a structure on private Palestinian land.
The outpost residence initially complied with both demands and agreed to make use of a poorly paved agriculture road to access its hilltop community of 42 families. The road was not considered to be located on private Palestinian property.
The High Court ruling on the road came as part of a 2008 Yesh Din petition on behalf of Palestinians from three neighboring villages asking the High Court to evacuate the entire Amona outpost that was first created in 1995.
In 2012, the High Court ruled that the outpost should be evacuated because it was built without proper permits on private Palestinian property.
Amona residents were able to stave off the destruction of their community by reporting to the High Court that it had purchased land from the Palestinian owners on which 16 of the community’s homes are located.
The legality of that purchase is now before the Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court.
Until the magistrate’s court rules on the matter, the High Court has ruled that the 16 homes can remain where they are. Amona settlers and Yesh Din are now battling before the High Court with regard to the fate of the remaining 30 structures in the outpost.
Amona settlers claimed that these 30 structures are no longer part of the court case, particularly given that none of the Palestinian petitioners owned the lots on which the structures are located.
Yesh Din said the initial 2012 demolition ruling applies to these homes and that the lack of Palestinians petitioners did not change the fact that the structures are illegally built on private Palestinian property.
The High Court ruled that the 30 structures are still part of the court case, but has yet to issue a clear ruling as to the fate of the homes.
At the heart of the settler’s case is their contention that there is enough purchased and state land on the hilltop for a viable Jewish community.
Yesh Din argued that such a community is not viable given the extent of private Palestinian property in the outpost’s location.
It said that any route to the outpost would involve making use of private Palestinian property.
Earlier this month it wrote a letter to the attorney general’s office stating that settlers had rebuilt the main access route and were using it to travel to the outpost.
It further charged that settlers were expanding the secondary agriculture road, by making use of private Palestinian property on either side of the existing single lane route.
Zilber wrote back this week, explaining that her office had verified Yesh Din’s complaint.
The attorney-general’s office said that immediately after doing so it held an emergency meeting with representatives of the Defense Ministry, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria and the Prime Minister’s Office.
It has now turned to the court and plans to issue demolition orders against the construction.