Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday evening that he had taken preliminary steps to establish a new illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank to house settlers residing in Amona, on the same day as Israeli forces evacuating the illegal outpost faced violent resistance.
After years of court battles and months of delays, Israeli police forces carried out the evacuation of Amona on Wednesday due to it being built on privately held Palestinian lands.
Hundreds of Amona residents and supporters have adamantly opposed the evacuation of the outpost, which is deemed illegal under both Israeli and international law.
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) February 1, 2017
Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported that Netanyahu had named a panel, which would reportedly include representatives from Amona, the Ministry of Defense, and the prime minister’s office, to push forward the establishment of a new settlement.
According to the Israeli newspaper, if carried to fruition, the plan would lead to the creation of the first new settlement officially established by the Israeli government in more than two decades.
Netanyahu’s announcement came mere hours after the Israeli Supreme Court overruled a plan to relocate the Amona settlers to plots of land nearby, which also happened to be privately owned Palestinian property.
Pictures you won’t be seeing from Amona – Palestinian landowners who petitioned to remove the outpost and waiting to return to for 20 years. pic.twitter.com/U3jTZXJJsT
— Yesh Din (@YeshDin) February 1, 2017
Israeli human rights group Yesh Din — which represented the residents of nearby Palestinian villages whose lands would have been affected by the relocation — welcomed the ruling on Wednesday.
“We hail the (Supreme Court) decision not to yield to extensive political pressure, and to cancel an illegal plan that would harm Palestinian property rights,” the NGO wrote on Twitter.
In response to the ruling, Israeli Education Minister and ultra-right politician Naftali Bennett said that “the government must build a new settlement for Amona’s residents .. This would be the proper Zionist response and should do it as soon as possible.”
— Ben White (@benabyad) February 1, 2017
Rights groups have highlighted that, while 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 occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are also built in direct violation of international law.
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)