Fearing Attacks on Palestinians, State Demands Peaceful Evacuation Pledge From Amona Settlers

In return for relocation deal, government seeks written commitment to non-violent eviction from outpost residents. Violent eviction could escalate unrest in the West Bank, Netanyahu says.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Amona, on December 12, 2016.
Amona, on December 12, 2016.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The government is requiring that the residents of the West Bank outpost of Amona, who are facing a December 25 deadline from the High Court of Justice to vacate the site, sign a written commitment that they allow a peaceful evacuation in return for their relocation to an adjacent site, in an area that is deemed abandoned land.

The main reason why the government is requiring that Amona residents sign such a commitment is concern that a violent eviction of the residents from the site would lead to a deterioration in the security situation in the West Bank as a result of attacks by right-wing extremists against Palestinians.

At the meeting Monday morning, Netanyahu said that every effort should be made with the outpost residents to ensure the peaceful evacuation of the site, out of concern that the day after would bring a wave of hate crimes against West Bank Palestinians. The prime minister noted that, in such a situation, there was liable to be a counter-response by the Palestinians and broad escalation of the security situation in the West Bank.

The high court ordered the unauthorized outpost evacuated after ruling in favor of Palestinians who claimed that they own land on which the outpost is currently situated. The relocation plan now has the approval of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.

A senior Israeli official who attended the meeting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held Monday morning on the issue said the document that Amona residents will be asked to sign will include their commitment to leave the current site peacefully under all circumstances - even if a petition challenging their relocation to the new site is filed with the High Court of Justice.

The commitment requires not only that the residents each commit not to use violence against police or soldiers carrying out the evacuation of the site, but also that they refrain from calling on outsiders to come to the area during the evacuation and that they also keep people who may resort to violence away from the outpost, the senior official said.

This demand was presented to representatives of the Amona residents at a meeting on Monday afternoon with the leader of the Habayit Hayehudi party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the official said. "It was made clear to them that without signing such a commitment, there is no deal," the source added.

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