Evacuating Illegal West Bank Outpost Built on Private Palestinian Land Will Cost Israeli Taxpayers $15 Million

The state has asked the High Court to delay the demolition of Netiv Ha'avot by three months, reasoning that settlers should have temporary homes in the interim

Housing in the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot, 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

The proposal that will be brought to the cabinet for evacuating the 15 illegally built homes at the Netiv Ha’avot outpost in Gush Etzion is expected to cost Israeli taxpayers between 50 million and 60 million shekels ($14.3 million to $17.1 million), sources involved said Wednesday.

According to two sources familiar with the details, the Prime Minister’s Office has agreed to these sums, which will cover all the components of the evacuation, including compensation to the settlers and the regional council, the division of structures that might be able to be saved from total demolition because only parts of them are on private Palestinian land and the construction of new homes for those whose homes cannot be saved under any legal scenario.

A spokesman for the settlers’ task force said Wednesday night that they “Are still in discussions” and that the sum isn’t final.

The state on Tuesday petitioned the High Court of Justice to postpone the demolition of the homes on the grounds that new temporary homes must be built for the evicted families first.

The homes had been scheduled for razing in the first week of March; the state now wants a June 15 deadline.

The petition states that it was filed at the behest of the prime minister and defense minister, with the acquiescence of the attorney general. The new temporary houses are due to go up right next to the outpost on land not privately owned by Palestinians.

In 2016 the High Court of Justice ruled that the houses built on private Palestinian land without building permits should be torn down in whole or in part. In its petition Tuesday, the state described its plan to “carry out the court’s ruling peacefully” – that is, without leading to violent resistance by the outpost's residents. During the past few days the settlers promised to leave peacefully if the court approves the postponement.

A similar plan had been reached for the evacuation of Amona, another illegal outpost, a year ago. Despite the residents’ undertakings, the two-day evacuation was marked by violence, especially after hundreds, possibly thousands, of people showed up on the hilltop to protest, many of whom barricaded themselves in the local synagogue. Dozens of police officers were injured.

One of the sources familiar with the eviction proposal said the settlers had at first demanded tens of millions of shekels more. According to the source, 10 million shekels will come from the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office while the rest will come from shaving the budgets of other ministries. Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has announced that he opposes any cuts to the Health Ministry budget for any reason, including this.

Of the 15 homes, six are only partially situated on private Palestinian land. These are the homes that the government hopes to “saw off,” so that the parts not on private land, although built without permits, will not be destroyed.

Yoav Horowitz, Netanyahu’s chief of staff, has told the settlers that the prime minister and defense minister had agreed on a budget for the Netiv Ha’avot plan.

On Monday, Netanyahu met with the leaders of the parties in his governing coalition to approve an award of 20 million shekels ($5.7 million) to the 15 families.