The state is planning to expand the isolated settlement of Amichai to nearly three times its current size so that it will include the illegal outpost of Adei Ad, Haaretz has learned.
The immediate purpose of the expansion is to turn Adei Ad into a kind of distant neighborhood in Amichai. After the expansion, Amichai will be a large jurisdiction run by settlers in the heart of the West Bank.
The area, known as the Shiloh Valley, is located north of Ramallah and the settlement of Ofra and south of the settlement of Ariel, and is outside of and quite a distance from what is usually referred to as the settlement blocs. Construction in this area is considered an obstacle to implementing the two-state solution.
Administration by settlers will make it difficult to enforce planning laws there and will enable legal construction in the future. Sources familiar with the details of the plan conceded that at this point the goal of increasing the jurisdiction of Amichai is to legalize Adei Ad.
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Amichai was established for the settlers evacuated from the illegal settlement of Amona in the northern West Bank, and is now home to some 40 families. According to the plan approved at the time of Amichai’s establishment, the state was to expand Amichai by 60 more housing units at first, and by about 300 more units in the future. These units were allocated a large area near the settlement of Shiloh and a few other relatively isolated settlements and outposts.
The illegal outpost of Adei Ad, a few kilometers east of Amichai, was built on state land without legal permits. The state never evacuated it and declared on a number of occasions that it intended to legalize it.
According to the Civil Administration map, which Haaretz has obtained, the Civil Administration intends to legalize a large area around Adei Ad, including the outpost itself, to nearly double the size of Amichai and to bring Adei Ad into its jurisdiction.
The state’s intention to expand Amichai came to light in an update the Civil Administration conveyed to Palestinians in legal proceedings against Amichai’s current boundaries. The Palestinians, represented by the NGO Yesh Din, argue that expansion of Amichai will deny them access to their farmland.
The Civil Administration revealed its decision in a letter by its infrastructure chief, Lt. Col. Mali Meiri, who noted that “the final municipal boundaries are subject to change in keeping with a final decision” on the Palestinians’ court case.
Yesh Din’s attorney, Shlomi Zecharia, said, “The inhabitants of the villages near the outpost have become hostages to the policy that abundantly rewards prizes and gifts to ideological criminals. Cutting off farmlands by means of a false [expansion of] jurisdiction is extreme, disproportionate and needless, and in fact is intended to perpetuate restrictions on and infringement of Palestinian property, this time under the official auspices of the government.”
One of the immediate consequences of designating the expanded area as part of Amichai is that responsibility for enforcement of construction laws will no longer be in the hands of the Civil Administration, but rather will fall to the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. Except in the rarest cases, the council does not enforce the law against illegal construction in its jurisdiction. Avi Roeh, who until recently was head of the Yesha Council of settlements, admitted on a number of occasions that he had been involved in establishing illegal outposts and structures. As a result of the transfer of administrative powers to municipal authorities at Amichai, the settlers will be able to build new structures illegally without effective enforcement.