First trailers placed at new settlement for Amona evacuees
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First trailers placed at new settlement for Amona evacuees

36 mobile homes brought to Amichai, allowing former residents of razed illegal outpost to move in ahead of Passover

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

The first caravan is placed on the grounds of the new Amichai settlement for evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost on February 21, 2018. (Courtesy: Amona evacuees)
The first caravan is placed on the grounds of the new Amichai settlement for evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost on February 21, 2018. (Courtesy: Amona evacuees)

The first trailers were installed on Wednesday at a new settlement for evacuees of Amona, just over a year after their illegal outpost was razed and seven months after ground was broken on their new hilltop community in the central West Bank.

Construction teams will be laying 36 trailers over the next two days for the majority of the 42 evacuee families, which have been living together in a dormitory in the nearby settlement of Ofra since the February 2017 evacuation.

Due to budgetary constraints, the placement of four trailers has been temporarily delayed while an additional two face setbacks due to High Court petitions from Palestinians who claim that they would be situated on land that belongs to them.

It is unclear whether those six homes will be installed in time for the residents’ move to the hilltop, and a number of families may be forced to remain behind temporarily.

Trucks carry the first caravans to be placed on the grounds of the new Amichai settlement for evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost on February 21, 2018. (Courtesy: Amona evacuees)

The residents announced in a Wednesday statement that in three weeks, before the Passover festival, they will be moving together to Amichai, the first new state-planned Israeli settlement in over 25 years.

In the months following the residents’ move, construction of permanent homes is expected to begin, with the settlement’s master plan allowing for the construction of 102 houses. However, additional legal hurdles remain for roughly a third of those homes as Palestinians have petitioned the High Court claiming that the land on which they would be built belongs to them.

Responding to the latest development in their statement, Amona evacuees said they were “beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“Beyond the Regulation Law, the legalizing of thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the establishment of a new settlement after decades of drought, the great thing that the people of Amona have achieved in their uncompromising struggle is a change in discourse and consciousness,” said the group’s spokesman, Avichai Boaron.

While the March 2017 legislation Boaron referenced had initially been designed to prevent Amona’s demolition, which it failed to do, the measure — which still faces uphill legal battles even after being passed by the Knesset — has the capability of preventing the evacuation of future outposts built under similar circumstances.

The law allows the Israeli government to expropriate private Palestinian land where illegal outpost homes have been built ex post facto, provided that the outposts were “built in good faith” or had government support.

The construction of the new settlement has drawn broad condemnation by much of the international community, which views Amichai as situated on land that the Palestinians hope will be part of their state.

The Peace Now settlement watchdog has consistently panned the government’s decision to establish the hilltop community, saying that “42 families, which the court ruled had stolen private land, are extorting the government, while funding for educational programs and pensions for the disabled are being neglected.”

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