Netanyahu offers Amona evacuees new settlement anywhere on state land
The prime minister reportedly offers Amona settlers the option of founding a new settlement anywhere they want; High Court finds Amona compromise unlawful, complicating the evacuation; Amona settlers are to be moved to temporary housing in nearby outpost of Ofra.
According to officials in the political establishment, Netanyahu recently committed himself before the Amona residents to overseeing the construction of a new settlement in order to calm the prevailing tension and anger.
Following said rumors, Netanyahu set up a team Wednesday evening to promote founding a new settlement, as was promised to the settlers a month and a half prior (it is not yet confirmed that Netanyahu had promised to set it up anywhere the settlers choose). The team is to include representatives of the settlers, and the prime minister's chief of staff. It will begin work immediately in an effort to find an appropriate site for the new settlement.
In the above video, Amona settlers can be heard screaming at IDF soldiers that are working to evacuate them, pleading for them to refuse their orders and demanding that they remove their hats, which have the Star of David stitched into them.
The site on which any new settlement is to be established is expected to be in the Binyamin region.
Amona leaders are also expected to respond to Netanyahu’s rather elastic offer following the conclusion of the evacuation, which was characterized by heated clashes with the police and resulted in a number of injuries and arrests.
The Amona compromise, which had been reached between the government and the settlers, was rejected by the High Court of Justice on Wednesday. The HCJ found the compromise to be illegal, since it stated that the evacuees would be moved on to land belonging to Palestinians from the village of Silwad.
The court's decision put the kibosh on the Amona compromise the Finance Ministry had reached with the settlers. This despite the fact that the Finance Ministry had recently approved funding the evacuation with NIS 150 million, which was set to go toward setting up new caravans in the outpost of Ofra, setting up a new Talmudic study center, severance pay and allocating resources for receiving the settlers in Ofra.
The HCJ's ruling does not, however, affect the evacuation, as the settlers are to be transferred to temporary lodgings in the nearby outpost of Ofra, and were not expected to be directly moved to housing on the Palestinian land mentioned in the compromise.
The evacuation had created tensions and outright conflict between political factions within the government. Most notably, right-wing Likud and Bayit Yehudi members have found themselves on opposing sides of the issue, with Bayit Yehudi accusing the Likud of selling out the settlers, and Likud members accusing Bayit Yehudi members of catastrophizing the situation by leading the settlers to believe that the evacuation was avoidable.
Bayit Yehudi Leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on Netanyahu "to immediately exercises his authority over Defense Minister (Avigdor Lieberman) and prevent the destruction of agricultural land in Amona. It isn't necessary to destroy them, it will be sacrificing land unnecessarily."
The Defense Ministry issued its own statement in response, saying that "As opposed to Minister Bennett, Minister Lieberman did not order the destruction of agricultural land and is not interfering with a military order. Since Amona residents have submitted their objection to evacuating agricultural land to legal adviser to Judea and Samaria, and the matter is now being discussed legally, it will obviously be resolved by the High Court."
Lieberman also issued a personal statement, referring to the Israeli communal settlement in the West Bank where he lives, "As a resident of Nokdim, my heart is with Amona residents during this trying time, and I expect all elected officials, and particularly governmental ministers, to show the evacuees empathy and consideration, and not to take advantage of the residents' plight to make false accusations and stir up controversy with the people of Israel in an attempt to rake up narrow political gains."
Bennett gave a speech Wednesday morning, saying that "Unfortunately, the fight for Amona did not succeed. We lost the battle, but we're winning the war over Israel." He added that "From this hard day, hope will spring, and a new settlement will be built from the ruins of Amona. Out of its demolished yards, we will found kindergartens throughout Judea and Samaria."