PM Orders ‘Immediate Resolution’ of Amona Bureaucratic Issues

YERUSHALAYIM -
Heavy machinery stands idle in a field where they began construction work on Amichai, a new village that will house the 300 Jews evicted in February from Amona, June 20. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered that a solution be found to a budget dispute between the Ministries of Housing and Defense on who is to pay for construction at Amichai, the new town in the Binyamin region that the government has promised to build for evictees from Amona. As a result of the order, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, the heads of both ministries have promised to come up with a plan.

Work at the site began about a month ago. After much deliberation and bureaucratic procedures, former residents of Amona, who were thrown out of their homes by order of the High Court last year, were able to choose a new site for the construction of homes. The evictees chose a site in the area of Shiloh, north of Yerushalayim. The site chosen was the scene of numerous attempts to set up an unauthorized outpost, and as many attempts by police and the IDF to tear down the tents and temporary structures that spring up there occasionally. Considered a bastion of the “hilltop youth,” the site is frequently on the radar of police who seek to question activists about various “price tag” attacks.

One advantage of the area, the source said, is that most of the land in the area of Shiloh has been vetted as state land, so there is no danger that absentee Palestinian claimants will file petitions to remove the residents from their new homes, as was the case in Amona. However, the problem this time is not Palestinian ownership claims, but Israeli bureaucratic procedures.

Residents told Yediot Acharonot that an initial NIS 10 million for development costs has been spent, and none of the government ministries involved are willing to pick up the tab for further development. “They are sending us from official to official, but no one wants to take responsibility,” said Avichai Boron, chairman of the Amona residents committee. “Dozens of tractors and trucks that were brought in from all over have been standing idle. We never imagined that it would be bureaucracy that would hold up construction of this project.”