The Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee green-lighted on Sunday construction of a new settlement for the evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost.
The approval, which was first reported by the Ynet news site, was signed by Israel’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.
It was issued nearly two months after the security cabinet voted unanimously to establish a new settlement on state lands adjacent to Shiloh in the northern West Bank to relocate the Amona residents.
The High Planning Committee had originally been scheduled to convene earlier this month, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed the meeting to avoid a potential dispute on the issue with US President Donald Trump on the eve of his scheduled visit to Israel.
While in the early days of the Trump administration the White House insisted that settlements were not “an impediment to peace,” during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington in February, the president told the prime minister that he’d like him to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” and said in a Hebrew newspaper interview that settlements are “not a good thing for peace.”
Located northeast of Ramallah, Amona was forcibly evacuated in February after the High Court of Justice ruled in 2006 that it had been built illegally on private Palestinian land. The planned new community will be built on a West Bank hilltop called Geulat Zion, or “The Redemption of Zion.” The evacuees decided to name it Amichai, and it will be the first new settlement in the West Bank since the 1993 Oslo Accords.
The Civil Administration’s authorization indicates an advancement in the timetable for the establishment of Amichai, which settlement watchdogs had predicted would take as long as three years to complete.
However, the evacuees are still demanding that a military order be issued to allow the establishment of a temporary settlement in the same location as the future one.
The head of the unsuccessful campaign to save the Amona outpost, Avichai Boaron, said Sunday that the evacuees “welcome” the Civil Administation’s decision.
“Unfortunately though, it is too early to rejoice, as it is still another stage in a long and tiresome bureaucratic planning process that could take many years,” he said.
“Only an order to establish a temporary residential site can quell our distress. The new school year begins in a few months, yet we and our children do not know what will happen next year. We have been stuck in a youth hostel for four months in difficult conditions and our future remains foggy,” Boaron added.
The Amona spokesman called on Netanyahu to keep his promise to the evacuees.”If he does not do so, we will have no choice but to unilaterally uphold the agreement and go up to the land (Geulat Zion) on our own,” he warned.