Right-wing Lawmakers Dig in for Battle to Stop Demolition of Illegal Settlement

Amona, which was built on private Palestinian property, must be razed by the end of 2016, Israel's top court ruled.

A file photo of the Amona outpost.
Olivier Fitoussi

Members of the National Union faction in Habayit Hayehudi held an urgent meeting last night in Amona, a settlement slated for demolition by the end of the year because it is built on private Palestinian property.

The High Court of Justice ordered the settlement to be cleared two years ago and set the deadline at year-end 2016. Two days ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is working on postponing the move.

National Union members toured the community and heard the pleas of residents who said they were willing to do anything not to be forced to leave. Last month Haaretz reported on a plan to build a new settlement close to Shiloh to accommodate Amona’s evacuees.

Michal Fattal

“The days of uprooting Jewish communities in the Land of Israel are over,” said Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, chairman of National Union. “We will work with all our might to prevent the evacuation of a community, one that is on its land for 20 years with more than 40 families and 200 children, because of political persecution by the radical left. We all remember the harsh sights here 10 years ago and no one wants to go back there. Amona will not fall again.”

Amona was the site of violent clashes between settlers and security forces in 2006 when the IDF demolished nine unauthorized homes.

The evacuation of Amona in 2006.
Limor Edry

Asked how National Union would react if Amona is evacuated, Ariel said, “We hope and believe that the government will find a way to regularize Amona through legislation or some other means that will make the question irrelevant.”

Faction MK Betzalel Smotrich echoed Ariel, saying, “We came here to make it perfectly clear that Amona will not be evacuated or moved. The position of the community, the regional council and Habayit Hayehudi is that Amona stays where it is. We are working on solutions that take into account the High Court of Justice ruling and any other conversation is not acceptable and even harmful. Amona stays where it is, period.”

The chairman of the anti-evacuation campaign, Avihai Boaran, told the National Union officials, “We are very pleased to host the members of the National Union, headed by Minister Uri Ariel and MK Betzalel Smotrich. We are pleased to discover that such veteran and devoted settlement leaders are conveying with us the message that the era of evacuations is over. The evacuation of a Jewish community in the Land of Israel is no longer an option. There will be no more ‘transfer’ of Jews in the Land of Israel.”

National Union Secretary-General Ofir Sofer said, “The community of Amona is the beginning of a great disaster for all the settlements. ... We’ve heard of legal methods and there no reason why, when it comes to evacuating a Jewish settlement, the hand is quick on the trigger, but when it comes to Arabs seizing control of Jewish lands, suddenly there’s a jam and the safety is on.”