Is­raeli set­tlers ac­cept out­post re­lo­ca­tion deal

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

AMONA OUT­POST, Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries: Res­i­dents of a wild­cat set­tle­ment in the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied West Bank voted on yes­ter­day to evac­u­ate their hill­top out­post peace­fully, a week be­fore a court-im­posed dead­line for their evic­tion.

They ap­proved a re­vised gov­ern­ment pro­posal to re­lo­cate by a vote of 45 for and 29 against, a spokesper­son wrote on the out­post’s Twit­ter ac­count. The 40 fam­i­lies liv­ing at Amona in the north­ern West Bank faced a Supreme Court or­der to leave the site by De­cem­ber 25 be­cause it was found to have been built on pri­vate Pales­tinian land.

The dis­pute over whether to de­mol­ish the out­post north­east of Ramallah has taken on in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance be­cause of con­cern over set­tle­ment ex­pan­sion in the West Bank, oc­cu­pied by Is­rael since 1967.

All Is­raeli set­tle­ments in the West Bank, in­clud­ing an­nexed east Jerusalem, are seen as il­le­gal un­der in­ter­na­tional law, but Is­rael dif­fer­en­ti­ates be­tween those it has ap­proved and those it has not.

De­spite the prospect of force­able evic­tion by the army, the Amona res­i­dents had turned down a com­pro­mise deal on Thurs­day aimed at meet­ing their ob­jec­tions while also obey­ing the court rul­ing.

Vow­ing “pas­sive re­sis­tance”, res­i­dents had been for­ti­fy­ing the out­post since then, build­ing bar­ri­cades, drilling into floors and weld­ing ob­sta­cles, an AFP re­porter said. Hun­dreds of non-res­i­dents joined them in sol­i­dar­ity, they said. Yes­ter­day, they were of­fered a new deal af­ter an all-night meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. “Un­til dawn this morn­ing we made very great ef­forts to reach an agreed so­lu­tion on Amona,” Ne­tanyahu told min­is­ters and me­dia at Is­rael’s weekly cabi­net meet­ing.

Stay of ex­e­cu­tion

He has been seek­ing a way out of an im­passe which has put him be­tween the court and the le­gal opin­ion of his own at­tor­ney gen­eral on one hand, and the anger of set­tlers who are a key part of his po­lit­i­cal con­stituency on the other.

Ne­tanyahu will now need to go back to the court and ask for a stay of ex­e­cu­tion, prob­a­bly 30 days, for the new plan to be im­ple­mented. Baruch Marzel, a hard­line na­tion­al­ist and fol­lower of the late racist rabbi Meir Ka­hane, said the Amona set­tlers should not have ac­cepted Ne­tanyahu’s of­fer. “Given the way pres­sure was in­flicted on them, I can only feel sor­row that they ac­cepted Ne­tanyahu’s word when it has no value,” he said in He­brew dur­ing a visit to the out­post.

Res­i­dents also had mixed feel­ings, with some protest lead­ers speak­ing out against the deal to ap­plause from the young­sters. Oth­ers sim­ply drifted qui­etly away from the site. Tweets from a set­tle­ment spokesman gave no de­tails of the of­fer, but the head of the Amona “strug­gle com­mit­tee” said it was an im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous pro­posal. “I think that this draft is bet­ter, very much bet­ter, than the pre­vi­ous one pre­sented to us,” he told Is­raeli army ra­dio, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

Me­dia said the lat­est draft pro­posed mov­ing 24 of the 40 fam­i­lies to plots ad­ja­cent to the cur­rent site that are not cov­ered by the Supreme Court rul­ing. How­ever, Is­raeli rights group Yesh Din said a Pales­tinian claimant to one of those al­ter­na­tive plots has come for­ward, rais­ing the prospect of a new le­gal bat­tle.

—AFP

AMONA, Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries: Is­raeli Hous­ing Min­is­ter Yoav Galant (C-L) vis­its the set­tle­ment out­post of Amona, which was es­tab­lished in 1997 and built on pri­vate Pales­tinian land, in the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied West Bank yes­ter­day.

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