The High Court of Justice on Thursday evening granted the state's request to extend the deadline for the evacuation of the unauthorized West Bank Jewish outpost of Amona for another 45 days. The residents of the outpost, which was built on land owned by individual Palestinians, had been facing a deadline of December 25, this coming Sunday, to leave the site. The extension now gives them until February 8 to evacuate.
- Netanyahu bent over backward to appease the settlers. In return, they humiliated him.
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The residents of Amona submitted a statement to the court in which they committed themselves to evacuating the settlement peacefully. Following the court's demand in this regard, the commitment is unconditional and independent of any promises that the state may have made to them regarding alternative housing.
Palestinians have now asserted claims to land in the area that some of the residents had been slated to move to and the court said it was not passing on the legality of a move to other land in the area. "This is a final and last extension and is not conditioned on finding an alternative solution of one kind or another," the panel, which consisted of Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and Justices Hanan Melcer and Esther Hayut, stated. The state has admitted that construction of homes for Amona residents on an adjacent area known as Parcel 38 is not possible at this time due to Palestinian legal challenges.
In its ruling, the court took the state to task for its handling of the matter, noting that the state had been given two years to arrange for the eviction of the outpost's residents. "The current request for an extension of time is accompanied by the explanation that for various reasons the state had not managed to finish finding residential solutions for all of Amona's residents," the court stated. "This reason is no reason. It should be remembered that the state was given a considerable period of two years to carry out the demolition orders."
Despite the court's agreement to give Amona's residents an additional 45 days, the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which is representing the Palestinians who claim ownership of land on which Amona was built, called the state's latest request for an extension of time "insolent" and adding: "The state is not concealing the fact that there is currently no plan for transferring the Amona settlers and therefore the only aim of a delay is to try to find how the law can be circumvented."
For its part, the group that has been campaigning in support of the outpost residents and against their eviction said: "Now the responsibility in upon the state and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who committed in the coming 45 days to create homes for Amona residents on the hill [in the same area] and to preserve the community. The ball is in their court."
In its ruling, with apparent exasperation, the court stated: "In the totality of these circumstances, the [state's] request could have been denied, ruling that the deadline for carrying out the court judgment will remain as set. Everything that is being done now could have been done long ago. Nevertheless, following efforts that have recently been made to come to an agreed upon solution, albeit with considerable delay, there is now a commitment to peaceful evacuation."