Israel to Raze Structures Built on Private Palestinian Land in West Bank Outpost

Government will rebuild structures and compensate evacuated settlers ■ Thousands protest planned demolition, including justice and education ministers

Settlers resisting the evacuation of a carpentry shop in Netiv Ha'avot outpost, November 29, 2017
Emil Salman/Haaretz

Israeli security forces are expected to demolish 15 structures in the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot Tuesday morning, which were built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Thousands protested Monday against the planned evacuation, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

Houses slated for demolition at Netiv Ha'avot outpost

The Israeli government has allotted 60 million shekels (approximately $16.5 million) for the slated demolitions. The sum will be used to compensate evacuated families and reconstruct the stone structures, which is expected to take place nearby on land that is not privately owned.

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Israeli defense sources told Haaretz that an agreement has been reached with the settlers under which they will only resist the demolition of two of the structures. The source said that the evacuation is expected to go smoothly.

The government's authorization of a new settlement neighborhood for the evacuees caused turmoil on both sides of the political map. On the right, several prominent figures told Haaretz they would not show up to protest Tuesday as they were upset with the settlers for agreeing to the "moderate plan."

Bennett said Monday that "whoever wants to raze 15 homes will receive 350 on this hill. This is a difficult night. It is incomprehensible to the residents of the Netiv Ha'avot neighborhood and for everyone who has settled the precious Land of Israel. The only word that comes to mind is absurdity. I cannot recall a legal action as senseless as this."

The education minister, who also heads Habayit Hayehudi, added that "This battle will not be won until the prime minister abides by his promise and finalizes the construction of a huge neighborhood on this very hill."

Rabbis and other public figures have also made announcements in support of this protest.

In a September 2016 case submitted by Peace Now and Palestinian landowners, the High Court ordered the demolition of all 17 structures in Netiv Ha’avot outpost near the settlement of Elazar, south of Jerusalem.

Residents of the outpost had asked the High Court to waive the demolition orders entirely for six buildings that were built partially on state land and partially on land owned by Palestinians. The government tried to find ways to prevent the evacuation, including by suggesting 'sawing' the houses built partially on private land. At the end, the houses will be demolished in full.

The court refused, saying it deemed them illegal construction.

The other structures, including a monument to Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed in Lebanon, a carpentry shop, and a warehouse, which  were constructed on private Palestinian land but not used for residence, were already razed, and some were rebuilt nearby.