Residents of the illegal settlement outpost of Amona in the central occupied West Bank voted on Sunday to approve a relocation plan put forward by the Israeli government, after weeks of discussions trying to assuage settler anger over the mandated evacuation of the outpost.
Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported that the settlers residing in Amona in the Ramallah district — an outpost considered illegal by both the Israeli government and the international community — had decided to accept an evacuation plan which would see the majority of them relocated to a nearby hilltop by Dec. 25 following a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court stating that the outpost was illegally built on privately owned Palestinian land.
“After 20 years of pioneering settlement, and against all odds, and after two years of struggle, we have decided to suspend our struggle, and take the government’s offer to build 52 houses and public buildings in new Amona,” Ynet quoted the Amona settlers as saying.
BBC News – Jewish settlers agree to leave Amona site in occupied West Bank https://t.co/XIb3q1sueN
— JustSayIt (@MDUK2016) December 18, 2016
A week prior, several hundred ultra-religious right-wing Israelis set up camp in Amona in anticipation of the outpost’s impending evacuation, raising tensions over a potentially violent confrontation between the settlers and Israeli forces.
Amona settlers had rejected previous plans which would have seen only half of them relocated nearby, whereas the current agreement will reportedly see almost all of them staying in the area.
However, Israeli rights group Peace Now has noted that the plan would have the settlers relocate to land privately owned by Palestinians, stating that “the Israeli government is replacing one land theft by another.”
Deal Reached to Relocate Amona Settlers [to a nearby site on the same hill], Bennett Says https://t.co/R5sALqap8U
— Ben White (@benabyad) December 12, 2016
Meanwhile, Amona Rabbi Yair Frank warned that if the settlers deemed that the Israeli government was not fulfilling its part of the deal, “we will not hesitate to renew the fight,” Ynet reported, quoting the rabbi as saying that “we have no doubts that we’ll return to the whole mountain.”
In a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated the Israeli government’s “goodwill and love for settlement” in finding a solution that would satisfy the Amona settlers.
While the settler outposts constructed in Palestinian territory are considered illegal by the Israeli government, each of the some 196 government-approved Israeli settlements scattered across the West Bank are also built in direct violation of international law.
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)