Netanyahu urges Amona settlers to take relocation deal

The 40 families living at Amona, in the northern part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, face a court order to leave the site by December 25 because it was found to have been built on private Palestinian land.

Netanyahu urges Amona settlers to take relocation deal

World Bulletin / News Desk

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday urged residents of a wildcat settlement to accept an improved relocation deal which would reportedly leave most of them on their hilltop site.

Netanyahu is seeking a way out of an impasse which has put him between Israel's Supreme 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.

There is also the spectre of violent resistance if police and soldiers try to remove the Amona settlers by force.

"Until dawn this morning we made very great efforts to reach an agreed solution on Amona," Netanyahu told ministers and media at the weekly cabinet meeting, referring to a last-ditch overnight meeting with settlers and ministerial colleagues.

"We did the maximum. Now I can only hope that the Amona residents, who are at this moment discussing the proposal among themselves, will accept it."

Media said the latest draft proposed moving 24 of the 40 families to plots adjacent to the current site which are not covered by the Supreme Court ruling.

However Israeli rights group Yesh Din said Sunday that a Palestinian claimant to one of those alternate plots has come forward, rasing the prospect of a fresh legal battle.

Supporters of the Amona families, many of them youngsters, have been arriving at the outpost for days in a show of solidarity that some fear may turn violent if they are forcibly evicted.

An AFP journalist at the site said they were building barricades, drilling into floors and welding obstacles.

"I came to make a statement. We are not giving up," said a 19-year-old man who refused to give his name.

Asked if he thought events could turn violent, he said: "I want to say no but I think there will be."

The residents have been debating the offer since Sunday morning and some media reports predicted it might be hours more before they announce a decision.

Tweets from a settlement spokesman gave no details of the offer or the mood at the meeting but the head of the Amona "struggle committee" said it was an improvement on a proposal the residents turned down on Thursday.

"I think that this draft is better, very much better, than the previous one presented to us," he told Israeli army radio, without revealing details.

The dispute over whether to demolish the Amona 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.

Yesh Din, which represents Palestinian owners of some of the plots settled at Amona, said all possible compromises floated so far were, "illegal, immoral and unreasonable."

The court, it said in a statement, had "ordered the residents of Amona to be removed from the private Palestinian land they took over."

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Aralık 2016, 15:47
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