Netanyahu Eyes Paying Settlers Millions for Leaving Illegal Outpost Built on Private Palestinian Land

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Border Police gather at Netiv Ha'avot, November 2017.
Border Police gather at Netiv Ha'avot, November 2017. Credit: Emil salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened leaders of his governing coalition on Monday to approve the allotment of 20 million shekels for 15 resident families of the illegal outpost Netiv Haavot for their impending evacuation. Last year, one of the structures in the West Bank outpost was razed because it was built on private Palestinian land. The state is expected to request that the supreme court delay the outpost's evactuation, which is currently scheduled for the beginning of March.

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Representatives of the budget division said at the meeting that there is no room in the budget for such payments, which amount to 300 million shekels total. Officials at the meeting decided to launch an effort to draw the funds from budgets of different government offices. 

Usually subjects of the type are handled in the forum of the cabinet, which normally convenes on Sundays. However, due to the prime minister's absence, the cabinet session was postponed to Monday and was then canceled outright due to disagreement among the ministers over the new map of national priority zones.

Netanyahu therefore elected to advance with the issue of Netiv Haavot through the forum of coalition party leaders.

One of the buildings in Netiv Haavot, a carpentry workshop that had been built partly on privately owned Palestinian land, was demolished in November 2017. The High Court of Justice ordered the state to demolish the other 15 houses, very large homes built of stone, in March.

The ministers Naftali Bennett (education) and Ayelet Shaked (justice) visited the outpost on Sunday and promised the residents they would try to postpone their eviction by three months, until construction starts on alterative homes nearby, for "humanitarian" reasons.

Bennett and Shaked also said that an effort to legalize the parts of the Netiv Haavot homes that weren't built on Palestinian land would be brought before the forum of coalition party leaders headed by the prime minister.

However, after the ministerial visit, the outpost residents stated that they had a belly full of promises and would "not rest until we see deeds on the ground."

It was two years ago that the High Court ordered the structures in the outpost to be pulled down, following a petition from Peace Now and some Palestinian residents of the Palestinian town of al-Khader.

The Civil Administration, the civilian body that holds administrative control over parts of the West Bank, approved the establishment of a site for the evacuated residents to live for three years that is just 500 meters from the outpost.