In advance of the scheduled demolition of 17 homes in an outpost in Gush Etzion, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has requested the head of his office, Yoav Horowitz, to examine alternative locations for the residents of the Netiv Ha’avot neighborhood. PM Netanyahu is seeking to arrange for the construction of the new homes even before the orders for demolition take effect.
The request came as a result of prompting by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who said that the government had a responsibility to find alternative housing for the residents of the neighborhood. While the High Court ruled that the buildings had been constructed on privately owned Palestinian land, previous court rulings had said that the land was actually state land, and that the buildings could remain. In light of those rulings, the High Court in its 2016 decision gave residents a year and a half to find alternative housing.
Shaked suggested a parcel of land located near the current houses, outside the Gush Etzion town of Elazar. The government needed to make a thorough investigation of the legal status of that land and ensure that it is not privately owned. If the land checks out, it would be a good site for construction of the new homes, she said.
Speaking to residents of the outpost, Shaked said that her office was currently working on ways to salvage at least some of the buildings at the site. “We have learned from the situation in Amona that we need to be prepared in advance so that families are not forced to live in dormitories. Every wall, every doorway, and every door in Israel will receive the proper attention and be treated in as honorable a way as possible,” Shaked said.
After years of appeals, the outpost of Amona in Shomron was demolished in February. No alternative housing was provided for the residents, many of whom are still living in a dormitory in Ofra, and only this week has work begun on a new town for them, as the government promised. Shaked said she wanted to avoid a repeat of that situation, and while the government would fight the demolition of the Netiv Ha’avot homes in whatever way it could, it intended to be prepared in the event that the appeals against the court’s orders failed.