Sunday, December 4

The Amona Outpost Debacle

The Netanyahu Government, as it behaved during the tragic massive fire disaster, is continuing to placate the extremist right wing camp by using this tragedy and the Amona illegal settlement for currying favor with the neo-fascist right - the extremist right wing religious settler-oriented Zionist movement.

A view of the Jewish outpost community of Amona. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
While the fires were raging throughout the country, many unproved accusations of causing the fires were uttered against Israel’s Arab citizens. The Interior Minister, Shas Party’s Arye Deri, was one of those who threatened and clucked the most, followed by Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, and a plethora of echoes coming from the Likud Party with Netanyahu also making accusatory statements against Israel’s Arab citizens.

As mentioned in my last article, Israel’s Arab leaders condemned the fires and many Arab citizens had opened their homes to receive those, who had lost their homes in the blaze, irrespective of whether they were Arabs or Jews. Apart from that, many Israeli Arab citizens were involved in firefighting and rescue operations, including the Palestinian Authority that had sent four fire fighting units to help put out the fires.

The blaze was started by negligence, including the burning of refuse that had no connection with terror, and it is still unclear as to whether in fact there was Palestinian arson involved to the extent that the government claimed. The suspects are under investigation and some have even been released by the police. The exaggerated claims of arson by the right wing government were politically motivated to a large extent. The Income Tax Authorities will compensate the fire victims if the cause of the fire was terrorism. What will happen to those, whose homes were destroyed because of negligence that was not their fault?

“Amona (Hebrew: עמונה‎‎) is an Israeli outpost in the central West Bank. Located on a hill overlooking Ofra within the municipal boundaries of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, the village was founded in 1995 on privately owned Palestinian land. As of 2012, its population was around 200.[1] As of October 2013, the outpost lodged 42 families.[2]
The High Court of Israel ruled in 2006 that the settlement is illegal under Israeli law,[3] but as of March 2013, its status remained unresolved as the Israeli government continued to fight the court's eviction order. In May 2014 an Israeli police investigation revealed the entire outpost lay on private Palestinian land, and that documents used by settlers to claim they had purchased the sites were forged.[4] In December 2014, the Israeli High Court ordered the state to completely evacuate and demolish the settlement within two years.[5] The international community considers all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.[6]” From Wikipedia
 History seems to be repeating itself with Amona. Despite its evacuation in February, 2006, the government closed its eyes to its rebuilding and is now due to be evacuated again. It has only 42 families. The government must carry out the High Court decision on evacuation and cease undermining it!

Now the Israeli Government is doing its best to postpone the inevitable evacuation of this illegal outpost by even trying to make laws that undermine the Israeli Supreme Court decision on its evacuation on 25th December 2016  A sad day is approaching when this self-righteous right wing Netanyahu Government does its utmost to undermine Israeli Supreme Court’s rulings by approving the Settlement Regulation Bill that is super right wing as well as being religious, extremist and settler-friendly.

At the same time, people (over 1700 families) whose legal homes in various towns in Israel were destroyed by the recent widespread fires will be subjected to a tyrannical, inefficient bureaucracy to get compensation for their property loss and extensive damage. However, the latest news on this controversial Settlement Regulation Bill is that it has been shelved for the time being due to severe differences of opinion within the government coalition.

These people should be given top priority in getting compensation rather than the 42 families settled on an outpost that is stolen Palestinian land. Politics of the extreme right wing in Israel is great stuff to increase support for the right wing Government coalition at the expense of vulnerable citizens in Israel, who deserve far more. The Israeli Supreme Court made a decision and the government, for the sake of cheap political, populist gains is doing all in its power to prevent the decision of transferring the settlers to another place.  The latest development in this story is a request by the Netanyahu Government to the High Court for postponement of evacuation by a month. They had two years in which to evacuate. The Government took no heed of the High Court decision on this matter. In panic they started drafting bills to prevent the inevitable at the last minute. As mentioned earlier in this article, the Bill was shelved at the last moment.

If this controversial bill would have been passed into law, it would have resulted in Israel being taken to the ICC. The latest in this futile Amona debacle, is that after Netanyahu and Bennett reached compromise removing the controversial Clause 7, and despite Attorney General’s warnings that new draft still contains components contravening international and Israeli law, bill passes preliminary reading in the Knesset by 60-49 following a stormy debate.

The building of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is illegal. There is an international consensus on this. If this were not the case, Amona as well as other similar outposts would not be threatened with evacuation. Even the Israeli High Court has ruled that these outposts are illegal. If this is the case then it is incumbent on Israel’s Legal Authorities to ensure that Amona is evacuated. Any form of manipulation by the Israeli Government preventing the court order of evacuation is illegal and will create serious problems for Israel’s image as a law abiding country and this will endanger Israel’s democracy.

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