Israel will compensate Palestinians whose lands were seized by Israeli settlers to build an outpost at the center of years of legal wrangling.
The plaintiffs had sought compensation for financial damages caused to them by Israel’s continued reluctance to evacuate settlers from the Amona outpost, which prevented them from farming their land. In the deal signed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, the state acknowledged that the plaintiffs had rights over the lands in question and that settlers had erected buildings there without permits, the Ynet news site reported. It also agreed to pay the plaintiffs NIS 350,000 ($102,000) in damages.
The court ordered that if the settlers have not been removed from the plaintiffs’ land by 2015, the state pay a further 48,000 shekels ($13,500) in damages.
Israeli human rights watchdog Yesh Din hailed the deal as unprecedented. It said the state now needed to honor the decision by evacuating the settlers.
“Now what is required is evacuation and we’re going to fight on until that is achieved,” it said.
The Supreme Court has on several occasions ordered that the outpost, located near the settlement of Ofra in the central West Bank, be dismantled. In 2006, troops razed nine homes after clashes with some 5,000 settlers and their sympathizers, but several dozen trailers have remained.
The government has repeatedly put off dismantling the rest of the outpost, despite court deadlines. Settlers recently claimed they had bought some of the land the outpost sits on, but Palestinians have vehemently denied this and police have said the documents which supposedly proved the sale were apparently forged.
Today, there are 40 families and 170 children living in Amona. Its future remains unclear.