State Asks Court for Seven Months to Solve Amona

YERUSHALAYIM -
View of caravan homes at the Amona outpost in the Binyamin regional council. (Flash90)
View of caravan homes at the Amona outpost in the Binyamin regional council. (Flash90)

The Israeli government on Monday asked the High Court for a seven-month postponement of the demolition of the Amona outpost, during which time it will prepare a solution that will satisfy the court, the residents and the interest of keeping the peace.

Attorneys for the state stressed that this is not merely a delaying tactic, and they are not trying to find a way to allow the residents to remain, but to arrange for relocation in Shvut Rachel or a site near Amona.

“Given the complexity and the sensitivity involved in evacuating a community like Amona, the state is obligated — first and foremost — to find alternative solutions which can allow for the evacuation to proceed peacefully and in a way that will reduce tensions as well as reducing the harm done to the families who live there,” the attorneys said in a statement.

However, the families in Amona are adamantly opposed to the relocation proposals. In a letter to the prime minister, residents said they intend to “mount a public, popular struggle, respectable and difficult, that would unite all of our supporters, both within the outpost and out. This will be the fight of our lives for our home.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry officials told Haaretz on Sunday that they oppose a Justice Ministry proposal to transfer the outpost to a nearby empty plot of land, saying it would violate international law and damage Israel’s image in the world.

Under the plan, they would move to “non-permanent” homes on land whose owners — Palestinians who left the area during the 1967 Six-Day War — are not known. The land would be offered to the families in renewable three-year rental contracts. The contracts would include an article stipulating explicitly that if the rightful owner of the land returns, the contracts would be voided and the land returned to the claimant.

At a recent meeting with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, ministry representatives argued that such a proposal does not meet the standards of international law. Furthermore, they noted U.S. opposition on the grounds that it would be a breach of Israel’s past assurances that it would not appropriate Palestinian lands for new construction.