Evacuees From Illegal West Bank Outpost of Amona Pick Land They Want to Settle Next

Settlers to erect protest tent near Knesset on Thursday, demanding that Israeli government backs their choice of 'state land' around Geulat Zion.

A mobile trailer being removed from the Amona outpost, February 6, 2017.
THOMAS COEX/AFP

The former residents of Amona voted Wednesday on where they want to settle next, following their evacuation from the illegal West Bank outpost last week. They chose a site on what they claim is state land around Geulat Zion, in the Shilo settlement bloc.

The location was chosen after the group toured several possible locations within the Mateh Binyamin regional council this week.

The Geulat Zion outpost is one of several illegal settlements near the Palestinian village of Duma, where three family members died in an alleged arson attack by Jewish extremists in July 2015.

Other areas the evacuees considered were near Neveh Tzuf (Halamish) and adjacent to the Allon Road.

Evacuees who took part in the vote say the tour of the sites was not an official event with people from the team formed by the prime minister to help build a new settlement for them. Instead, it was based upon “information from people who know the data about state lands.”

One evacuee said the areas were places where “the fewest legal problems” would be anticipated in building a new outpost.

The evacuees plan to erect a protest tent between the Knesset and Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon.

They will demand that the location of their new settlement be approved at the next cabinet meeting on Sunday morning. They are vowing not to leave until a government decision is made in their favor.

Houses in Shvut Rachel, the West Bank settlement located close to the Shilo bloc.
Baz Ratner/Reuters

The location selected by the Amona settlers is close to the hilltop opposite Shvut Rachel, where they were promised a new settlement during the negotiations that preceded the Amona evacuation.

The paperwork and bureaucratic efforts for building the homes in Shvut Rachel was already underway prior to the evacuation last week.

Some of the settlers claimed that “it was their understanding” the planning of the new settlement adjacent to Shvut Rachel would be advanced in tandem with planning for the new settlement in the Geulat Zion area. However, they stressed they were not connected to the “official” settlement, anyway.

At the same time, several mobile trailer sites were erected by the regional council in the settlement of Ofra (close to the Amona site) to house the Amona evacuees. However, they are not currently staying there.

Dozens more trailers were installed, but are not yet connected to electricity and water, in the Shilo industrial zone. Others, which were originally situated in Amona, were removed and brought to the Shilo industrial zone, where they are being temporarily stored.