Court Delays Evacuation of Illegal West Bank Outpost of Amona Until July

Clearing of area was scheduled for end of this month, but state asked for postponement because of new government.

The Supreme Court granted on Sunday a request by the state and postponed the evacuation of the illegal outpost Amona until July 15. The state had asked the court for the delay because the new government has only recently taken office.

The three justices Supreme Court President Asher Grunis and justices Esther Hayut and Hanan Melcer did not explain their ruling. But the judges said the decision went beyond the letter of law, and ordered the state to report back to the court on the progress in executing the evacuation by June 13.

Amona was established in 1995 on a mountain overlooking the settlement of Ofra. Most of the land Amona sits on is private Palestinian property. Demolition orders have been issued over the years against mobile homes and other semi-permanent structures on the site in 1997, 2003 and 2004. On Feb. 1, 2006, after a petition filed by Peace Now, the state demolished nine houses at Amona. Hundreds were injured in confrontations between police and thousands of protesters who tried to prevent the evacuation.

Amona now has some 50 residences as well as a school, winery and public buildings. Most of the Palestinian property owners petitioned the courts in 2008 in a demand to demolish the entire outpost. At the time the state agreed that the construction was illegal and determined it would be demolished, but said there were priorities involved in setting the timetable.

In February 2010, then-Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch issued an injunction requiring the state to explain why it was not carrying out the evacuation. In 2011 the state said Amona would be evacuated by the end of 2012.

Near the end of last year the state requested a further postponement until the end of April 2013, saying the residents had purchased some of the plots at the site and needed more time. Earlier this month, the state asked to delay the evacuation once again because of the establishment of the new government.

The issue of Amona is not known to have been discussed in any government forum since the new coalition was established.

MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) said: The evacuation and demolition of the community of Amona after the state prosecutor also admitted that a large part of the lands there were purchased will be an indefensible injustice. The government must do everything required to prevent the evacuation and allow the community to remain in place."