Amona Residents: Despite Deadline, No Movement on Alternative Housing

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jewish youths stand atop a roof in Amona, ahead of the government decision on the evacuation. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)

Out of the headlines it may be, but the Amona story is far from over. The new date for the evacuation of the site — February 8th — is less than a month away, and residents say that so far, the promised alternative accommodations the government promised them in return for the peaceful evacuation of their homes have yet to materialize.

Under the deal arrived at by both sides, evacuated residents will stay in caravans to be built on several land parcels on the Amona hilltop. The state guarantees that the caravans will remain in place until new homes being built for them in the nearby community of Shiloh are ready. In addition, the state will examine the possibility of constructing 52 permanent homes and communal buildings on the hilltop, on state land that the government is confident will not be challenged by absentee Arabs who will claim ownership of the land, as happened with the existing homes in Amona. The deal will initially provide caravans for 24 of the 40-some families currently living in Amona.

In fact, say residents, not even a tractor has been seen on the parcels of land that the government is supposed to set up for the installation of caravans, where residents of Amona whose homes are set to be demolished are supposed to move to.

According to sources in the community, tempers flared at a meeting last week between residents and government officials, who reportedly told residents that the government “is working day and night on your behalf, and the prime minister is dedicating 60 percent of his time to you. You people need to be very grateful. We are saving the settlement enterprise.”

In response, residents said that the deal that convinced them to peacefully evacuate their homes specified that the work on the new community would begin immediately. The state requested, and received, a 45-day extension from the High Court to prepare the new community, and time was quickly slipping by. “If it turns out that the state refuses to honor its commitments to us, things will return to the previous explosive situation, and the supporters of Amona will return to protest. Is this what the government wants?”

When asked for comment on the report, the Amona Residents Committee said that they could not relate to closed discussions. Yesha Council President Avi Ro’eh said that a professional committee needed to immediately implement policies “for the benefit of this project will we be able to progress for the benefit of everyone.”