Amona Settlers Accept Netanyahu's Proposal for Illegal Outpost's Evacuation

The plan is to double the number of trailers to be set up on a nearby hilltop, which is considered by the state to be Palestinian absentee property.

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Israeli settlers dance as they gather in the illegal settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank on December 17, 2016.
Israeli settlers dance as they gather in the illegal settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank on December 17, 2016.Credit: Menahem Kahana, AFP

The residents of Amona voted on Sunday to accept Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett's new proposal for an agreed-upon evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost.

The proposal stipulated that the number of trailers to be allowed to be set up on a nearby hilltop considered by the state to be absentee property will be doubled, and "extra efforts to maximize the number of residents left on the mountain" will be made, said a source who participated in a nighttime meeting on the subject.

Amona officials said in a statement they have decided "to give a chance to the proposal to build our homes and lives here in Amona. We will continue standing guard and check whether the state meets its commitment to build new homes and public buildings in Amona."

They threatened to "renew the struggle" if the state "doesn't meet its commitments."

In Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu pleaded with the settlers to accept the proposal.

A man blows the shofar near a sign reading 'the government won't survive Amona's evacuation' in the West Bank outpost.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

"We made great efforts to reach a solution for Amona," he said. "We did it out of our good will and out of love for settlement. The Amona leaders with whom we met overnight can attest that we have done all that we could. I can only hope that the residents of Amona who are now discussing the proposal will accept it. It would be the right thing to do."

The outpost, which was built on privately-owned Palestinian land, must be evacuated by December 25, by order of the High Court of Justice.

Several meetings were held overnight to formulate the proposal, attended by Netanyahu, Habayit Hayehudi head Bennett, settler representatives, Yossi Dagan, head of Israel’s Samaria Regional Council and Netanyahu's chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz.

Before the proposal was accepted, hundreds of youths had arrived in Amona in a bid to violently resist its evacuation.

Meanwhile, the government is preparing to approve a 130-million-shekel ($33.8 million) budget to evacuate the outpost, to destroy the nine homes built on private land in the neighboring settlement of Ofra and to compensate the settler residents of those two sites.

The funds will go toward the establishment of a new settlement near Shvut Rachel, where some 100 lots will be sold – returning about 40 million shekels to the state coffers.

Zionist Union's Tzipi Livni said in response to the deal struck with Amona: "It's good that there was no violent evacuation in Amona – but it's unfortunate that the threat of violence works. What remains of Amona isn't Zionism, settlement or any other value – just that the Israeli government caves to strongmen."

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