MK: With U.S. Distracted, Now a Good Time to Pass Amona Law

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

November 10th could be a crucial day for Israel – a day that needs to be taken advantage of, said MK Shuli Muallem-Refaeli (Jewish Home) in a social media post. With the United States recovering from the “hangover” of an election rife with vindictiveness and division, Israel had the opportunity to act on the Outposts Arrangement Law, which will retroactively legalize not only Amona, but dozens of other outposts.

“The day after the elections in the United States is the day we need to step up pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pass this law,” she wrote. “We have a window of opportunity, and we cannot tolerate any further delays.”

Houses in Amona are slated to be demolished by the end of the year, and the state has requested a seven month extension in order to relocate residents with a minimum of friction and unrest, as has occurred in the past when the state tried to evacuate the site. According to the latest plan, the state will relocate Amona residents to a neighborhood of the town Shiloh in the Binyamin region, where hundreds of housing units are planned.

But according to Muallem-Refaeli, “running away” from the Amona problem by relocating residents will not solve anything. Amona was established decades ago, with the state sponsoring it and pouring money and resources into its establishment and development. The proposed law would entail requiring a land swap – which has been rejected by the Palestinians, under the advisement of leftist Israeli groups who are advising them – in situations where long-standing outposts and settlements are challenged by Palestinians.

According to the current law, the mere claim of a dispute is sufficient to require demolition of homes built by Jews, even if no evidence is presented. Once the homes are demolished, the process of clarifying to whom the land actually belongs can begin. The new law would require the claimants to accept land equal or greater in value to the parcel they claimed but has been in use for decades.

According to Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat, passing that law is an absolute must in order to avoid thousands of messy instances in which Israel will be forced to evict Arabs from homes built on land that belongs to Jews. In a statement, the Yerushalayim municipality said that “Mayor Barkat has asked State Attorney Mandelblit to assess the implications of the Amona decision on the city. There are many cases in Jerusalem that are identical to the situation in Amona, where Arabs have built homes on privately owned or municipal land and have lived there for decades. Obviously we cannot have a situation where there is one law for Arabs and another for Jews.”

In any event, said Muallem-Refaeli, the time to act is now – before the dust settles in the U.S. “Whether Trump or Clinton wins, they will be better for Israel than Obama was,” she added.