Outlaw Amana

The purpose of Amana is to create 'facts on the ground' and thwart any possibility of a future diplomatic accord.

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Amana, the cooperative association headed by Ze’ev Hever, defines itself as the settling entity of Gush Emunim. However, Amana is something else: it is proof that Israel is not a law-abiding country. It is also proof that official Israeli policy, which states its desire to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, is nothing but a smokescreen for the exact opposite.

The investigative report by Chaim Levinson, published Friday in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition, shows how Israel allows Amana to build illegally in the territories, while at the same time buildings belonging to hilltop youth are unhesitatingly demolished. It turns out that in Israel the law is a mere option, and it bends before those who wield great political power and have widespread connections.

This is the only way to understand the feebleness of the police in the Judea and Samaria district, the unspoken assent of the Civil Administration, and why the State Prosecutor’s Office turns a blind eye to the situation.

The negligence of the local authorities when it comes to Amana is embarrassing. Even when a criminal investigation was launched against it ‏(in 2006‏), investigators “did not find a link” between Amana and the nine housing units in the settlement of Amona, despite the fact that Amana itself petitioned the High Court of Justice not to demolish those buildings.

The investigators disregarded widespread construction in the outposts, and when they did finally decide to investigate the matter, they made do with a phone call to a friend, who denied any connection to the construction − and that was the end of that. Only under pressure from the High Court were probes started in two cases: illegal construction in Shiloh and Neve Tzuf.

The people who are supposed to be fighting Amana and its chief are actually seeking the favor of a friend. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has met with Hever twice since taking up her position, to discuss the issue of “price tag” attacks. This friend even has free access to the Civil Administration, the body that is meant to ensure that Amana follows all the planning laws.

Hever is frequently invited to meetings of Israel Defense Force officers and settlement leaders to discuss “strengthening the relationship.” Meanwhile, the government has hired him to advance the construction of communities for evacuees from the Gaza Strip during disengagement, and he has won Israel Lands Administration tenders. What other culprit in Israel enjoys such an open door to the authorities?

The purpose of Amana is to create “facts on the ground” and thwart any possibility of a future diplomatic accord. In any proper country, the police would immediately launch a comprehensive investigation, raid the organization’s offices, scrutinize its bank accounts, construction contracts and connections to suppliers. It would put its leaders on trial and shut it down. The fact that Israel doesn’t do this shows the real motivation behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s empty declarations about peace.

Israeli settlers marching on Route 60.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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