Amona Residents to Protest After Doubts Cast on New Settlement

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli policemen detain an Israeli man during the evacuation of Amona, on Feb. 1. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Two weeks after they were evicted from their homes, and under an aura of even greater uncertainty as to where they will live, former residents of Amona are planning a major protest effort this week outside government offices in Yerushalayim, including setting up a tent city outside the prime minister’s office.

The background to the protests are the reports last week that said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was “reconsidering” his promise to Amona residents to build them a new settlement. According to reports, PM Netanyahu told President Donald Trump in their meeting Wednesday that he planned to hold off on the decision to build the settlement, as promised when they were evicted from their homes by court order several weeks ago.

Residents and community leaders reacted with anger. In a statement, the Amona residents committee said that “we have a signed deal, with the signatures of the prime minister, the head of the prime minister’s office, and the education minister, with a contract that says that a new settlement will be in place by March 31st. This agreement was written by the education minister and the prime minister. Violating this would be a terrible blow not just to us, but to all their voters.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who was a key figure in developing the agreement that persuaded the Amona residents to leave their homes, said that cancelation or postponement of the deal was a non-starter. “Commitments need to be fulfilled and promises need to be kept,” Bennett said. “The prime minister signed an agreement to establish a new settlement for Amona evictees, and I am sure he will keep his word.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked added that “the government signed a deal and we have no intention of violating it. A new settlement will be established for Amona residents.”

In a statement, Amona residents said that “the establishment of a new settlement for Amona evictees is the bare minimum that the government must undertake in order to resolve our personal and communal problems. The establishment of this settlement will be the eternal response to our enemies who wish to see more and more settlements destroyed: We are in Yehudah and Shomron, and in the rest of Israel, forever. All the government ministers understand this, as does the prime minister.”