Amona settlers agree to a new government solution, avoid violent eviction

Jewish settlers, due to be evicted from the West Bank outpost of Amona, under an Israeli court order, accepted a government-proposed deal to head off a forced evacuation and confrontation with Israeli troops. The Supreme Court had ruled that the Amona outpost, where 330 settlers live, must be evacuated by the 25th of December, as the court found that Amona was built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land. With concern mounting over possible clashes with Amona settlers and militant supporters, Netanyahu and far-right coalition member Naftali Bennett held late-night talks with settler leaders, and agreed to increase the number of mobile homes that would be placed at a new site in Amona, on what Israel describes as land it holds in custodianship for absentee Palestinian owners.

“We have made intensive efforts to reach an agreeable solution to Amona. We have conducted dozens of discussions, we have brought about many suggestions, part of them, I would say, were ‘outside the box’, very creative proposals. We have done it out of good will and love to the settlement enterprise. love to the settlement enterprise, truly. There was no previous government that was more concerned for the settlements in the land of Israel and there is no other government that is more concerned for it. We are making every possible effort. I think that the leaders of Amona, that met with me and Minister (Naftali) Bennett until the early hours of the morning in my office, can profess the basic fact: we have done the maximum (possible).”

The case, a test of authority between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government and Israel’s independent judiciary, led to legislation that would retroactively legalize settlement-homes on what the Israeli court defines as privately owned Palestinian lands. The proposed law has been promoted by partners in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition and received backing from the Israeli leader. It needs to pass two more parliamentary votes to become law, but ultimately could be overturned by the Supreme Court, where it is expected to face legal challenges by settlement opponents. Due to the existing court eviction-order, Amona was not included in the bill. The legislation was condemned by Western powers and the United Nations, and described by Palestinians as a land grab and a step toward Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, the term used for the biblical districts of Judea and Samaria.