‘New Amona’ Cleared for Construction

YERUSHALAYIM -
A view of the Jewish outpost community of Amona. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
A view of the Jewish outpost community of Amona. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

The Civil Authority has finished mapping out an area where the new community of Amona is to be transferred, in the event that a compromise on the outstanding parcels of land that are disputed are not worked out. The land in question has been thoroughly surveyed, and was determined to be strictly state land, with no Palestinian claims on any of the lots.

A report on Army Radio said that plans for the site include construction of 140 housing units, including 40 for residents of the current site of Amona, if and when they are forced to leave their homes. It remains unclear if the residents of the current town will be willing to leave, however, and most have voiced their opposition to the Civil Authority’s “solution.”

The Amona saga goes back to 2006, when the High Court ruled that the community located in the Binyamin region was built on land claimed by Palestinian families. In February of that year, police and officials of the Civil Administration evacuated and razed nine buildings, facing down 4,000 Israeli protesters in a traumatic operation that saw dozens of people, including three MKs, injured.

Since then, the state has sought ways to prevent further demolitions, although various defense ministers have insisted that the remaining homes on the site will be demolished. The original settlers of Amona claim that the land was purchased from Palestinians, a claim disputed by Peace Now, which organized a petition of the claimants to demolish the homes.

The High Court had previously ruled that houses built on land claimed by Palestinians, even if those claims are unsubstantiated, must be demolished and cannot be rebuilt for as long as a decade, as evidence is gathered regarding ownership. The court in 2014 reaffirmed its earlier ruling and insisted that all the buildings on the site be demolished.

In a statement, the Amona Protest Committee, which represents residents, said that “we are not leaving or going anywhere. There is no alternative for us to the homes which we built. We oppose the establishment of a neighborhood that will make it easier for the government to ‘transfer’ us from our homes. Those who support this idea not only do not represent or support us, but [are] also fooling the relevant government authorities who believe that this is a good idea. We do not agree.”

The project was the idea of MK Shuli Muallem. If residents are evicted, they will be compensated and provided with the new homes. Muallem has passed legislation authorizing the construction on its first reading. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposes the legislation, saying that the High Court is likely to strike it down as violating Basic Laws.