Court grants more time to opponents of state’s bid to protect outpost

Petitioners have until beginning of next week to respond to government’s request for 7-month stay on Amona evacuation

View of caravan homes at the Amona Jewish outpost in the West Bank, October 6, 2016. (FLASH90)
View of caravan homes at the Amona Jewish outpost in the West Bank, October 6, 2016. (FLASH90)

The High Court of Justice on Thursday granted an extension to Palestinian landowners and human rights groups to respond to a state request to push off the mandated dismantlement of a controversial West Bank outpost.

The state on Monday had asked the court to grant it an extra seven months to carry the court-ordered evacuation later this year of Amona, which is built on private Palestinian land. Responses to the state’s petition were originally to be filed by Thursday afternoon.

Petitioners will now have until Sunday to file their response to the states request, the court decided Thursday.

The High Court, after over a decade of legal wrangling, ruled in 2014 that Amona, which lies east of Ramallah, was built on private Palestinian land and must be demolished by December 25.

The impending evacuation has threatened to destabilize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, which relies heavily on the pro-settlement right.

Pro-settler lawmakers have tried to find a legal loophole to keep the outpost in place, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has warned that attempting to legislate approval for the seizure of private lands would be unconstitutional.

Amona is the largest of about 100 West Bank outposts built without permission but generally tolerated by the government. These are in addition to 120 legal settlements.

AP contributed to this report.

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