Construction of settlement for Amona evacuees halted
Government ministries fail to transfer necessary funding to build the new settlement Amichai and the works, which have been funded by the Binyamin Regional Council so far, had to be stopped; Netanyahu asks bureau chief to work to resolve the matter.
Construction work on the new settlement Amichai have been stopped after government ministries failed to transfer the necessary funding, Ynet learned on Tuesday.
Shortly after the initial report on Ynet about the halt of the works, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his bureau chief Yoav Horowitz to ensure construction is resumed immediately.
Horowitz spoke to the director-generals of the Defense Ministry and Housing and Construction Ministry, as well as other relevant bodies, in an effort to resolve the matter.
Forty-two families were evacuated from the illegal outpost of Amona in February following a High Court ruling that determined the land belongs to Palestinians.
After some delays, a month ago, Netanyahu announced on Twitter that works on the new settlement have finally begun.
Over the last month, the works were funded by the Binyamin Regional Council under the assumption it will get the money back from the state, in accordance with the government's decision.
The regional council invested NIS 10 million so far in building infrastructure, but the state has yet to reimburse it, leading to the halt of construction.
"We sent notices to the different ministries and received no response," said Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Roeh. "They keep sending us from one ministry to the next and no one is taking responsibility."
Roeh said the regional council took on the initial financing of the project "out of the responsibility we have to the residents of Amona, who have been living in small rooms in Ofra for a long time. But to continue in this manner is irresponsible. The council needs this money for education, welfare and aid. The government needs to take responsibility, and it isn't doing so."
The decision to build the settlement stated that "the budgetary sources required to building the permanent settlement will be agreed upon by the defense minister and finance minister in cooperation with the relevant bodies."
Treasury officials said the Finance Ministry "is prepared for the matter and is waiting for the funds to be used," but for some unknown reason the funding, some NIS 60 million, has not been transferred from the Defense Ministry to the Binyamin Regional Council.
"We're shocked and hurt by this failure," the Amona settlers said in a statement. "We were worried legal difficulties would prevent the establishment of the new settlement, or diplomatic pressures would threaten the matter. We never dreamed bureaucracy would be what prevents it. To our amazement, this is what's happening. Ten engineering vehicles brought from afar to build a new settlement in Israel are standing still because some unknown bureaucrat is not willing to transfer the money and another bureaucrat is dragging his feet on signing off."
Avichai Buaron, the Amona settlers' leader, went on to say that "Only the prime minister can resolve the problem—and easily so. He must order Defense Minister Lieberman and his ministry's director-general to transfer the money immediately.... if this isn't resolved, we'll go live there in tents."
The Defense Ministry said in response the matter was under the responsibility of the Finance Ministry. The Finance Ministry said in response the matter was under the responsibility of the Defense Ministry.
Moran Azulay contributed to this story.