Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday posted a video on his Facebook page in which he pledged to increase enforcement of illegal construction laws to all areas in Israel, intimating that the government will crack down on illegal housing in the Arab sector.
Netanyahu addressed the video to residents of Amona, an outpost deemed by the Supreme Court to have been built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land. In the clip he called on residents of a West Bank outpost not to resist the imminent evacuation of the outpost, which is expected in the next few days.
The state has until December 25 to evacuate the outpost. Netanyahu is to meet with Amona residents on Saturday evening, in another bid to head off a confrontation, Channel 2 news reported on Friday evening. Hundreds of supporters have made their way to the outpost in the past few days.
“Dear residents of Amona, my heart is with you,” Netanyahu said in the video. “You are going through a tough time, you and your families and the rest of the people of Israel.”
“The government is committed to settlement in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical name, “We are committed to it more than any government in the history of the country,” he added.
The prime minister said he and his ministers have made “every effort” to find a solution that would allow to leave the settlers in their current homes. “We have devoted days and nights to this, with dozens of discussions, we raised creative solutions, outside the box solutions,” but none were accepted. Residents rejected the last such offer, which would have seen them moved to adjacent land on the same hill, on Wednesday.
Netanyahu insisted that the law on illegal construction “must be egalitarian. The same law that necessitates the evacuation of Amona, necessitates the evacuation of illegal construction elsewhere in our country,” he said.
The prime minister said he would insist on enforcing laws on illegal construction “in the Negev, in Wadi Ara, in the Galilee, in the center – all over the country.” He was apparently primarily referring to illegal construction by Israeli Arabs and Bedouins, where illegal construction laws have not been enforced for decades.
“I will not have double standards on enforcing the law between citizens of Israel, between Jews and Arabs, between one person and the next,” he said.
He called on Amona residents to act responsibly, and “not to harm IDF soldiers and security forces under any circumstances. They are our sons, the apple of our eyes, they are dear to all of us and keep all of us safe. There is no room for violence.”
The prime minister then turned to parents from Amona, saying their protest “is understood, but this is not the place for the presence of boys and girls, or young teens.”
Residents of Amona have threatened non-violent resistance to evacuation, but some have warned that they will not able to control all who come to help them resist evacuation.
The Amona Headquarters, a makeshift organization of residents opposing the evacuation, said in response to Netanyahu’s video: “We are not looking for empathy and compassion. We expect the person at the head of the state to be capable of finding the way to prevent this terrible disgrace about to happen.
“You can prevent the destruction and save Amona and on the other hand, if you fail, we will stand here with thousands of others leading a popular protest, democratic and non-violent, and the responsibility for destroying a flourishing community in the Land of Israel will be written in your name and the names of your government ministers,” Channel 10 quoted the statement as saying.