Religious youth group urges ‘struggle’ against Amona evacuation
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Religious youth group urges ‘struggle’ against Amona evacuation

As demolition deadline looms, right-wing lawmakers call for calm, demand acceptance of High Court verdict

View of the Amona outpost in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
View of the Amona outpost in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The religious-Zionist youth movement Ariel called on its members to take part in a non-violent struggle against the evacuation of the Amona outpost in the central West Bank, which has been ordered by the High Court for no later than December 25.

“[The movement] cannot keep silent while the destruction of a settlement in the Land of Israel takes place. It is our right and obligation to safeguard our country, our way and our faith,” read a statement by the movement. “Everyone should choose the form of struggle that works for him. Of course one should not protest violently or break the law,” the statement concluded.

On Thursday, an email by the campaign against the demolition of Amona was sent out widely urging people from all over the country to come to the outpost to help prevent its evacuation. Perhaps in order to impute a sense of urgency, the email suggested the evacuation would take place this Saturday evening, December 11, two weeks ahead of the date set by the High Court. The email included an invitation with instructions to bring warm clothes, a sleeping bag, a tent, toilet paper, a camera and food.

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers took part over the past week in a training exercise at an IDF base in southern Israel ahead of the evacuation of Amona. The troops and officers also trained for a possible need to cordon off the illegal outpost to secure the evacuation, which was ordered by the High Court following a ruling determining that the outpost was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Soldiers and Border Police troops participate in a training exercize at the Tze'elim IDF base in southern Israel ahead of the High Court-mandated ruling to evacuate the West Bank outpost of Amona on December 25, 2016. (Screenshot/Channel 2)
Soldiers and Border Police troops participate in a training exercise at the Tze’elim IDF base in southern Israel ahead of the High Court-mandated ruling to evacuate the West Bank outpost of Amona on December 25, 2016. (Screenshot/Channel 2)

Meanwhile, several organizations and public officials associated with the settler movement called on their constituents to accept the High Court verdict and refrain from arriving at Amona to protest the impending evacuation. On Friday, Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev said protesters should not violently oppose the evacuation, adding that the struggle against the dismantling of the outpost must aim to create sympathy for the settlement movement, not serve as a deterrent for possible future evacuations. The Bne’i Akiva youth movement on Thursday also issued a statement urging calm ahead of the evacuation.

Also Thursday, lawmaker Yehuda Glick called on supporters of the illegal West Bank settlement of Amona to ignore appeals to resist the outpost’s evacuation. “I beg you not to go! Don’t listen to them! Nothing good will come out of it! There is no chance of stopping the evacuation and it’s also not right to do it,” the Likud Knesset member, who is best known for his campaign to allow Jews to worship on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, wrote in a Facebook post.

Late Wednesday, Israeli lawmakers approving the first reading of the controversial Regulation Bill in a late night vote that followed a five-hour Knesset debate. The vote was another step toward legalizing thousands of settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank and was originally designed to avert the court-ordered demolition of Amona.

But earlier this week, harried government efforts to reach a compromise saw a clause that would retroactively override the High Court ruling dropped from the bill. The bill would, however, recognize other settlements built on private Palestinian land.

Young Jewish men seen building a structure in the Jewish settlement of Amona in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the illegal settlement. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Young Jewish men seen building a structure in the Jewish settlement of Amona in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the illegal settlement. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The legislation — slammed by the US, the EU and the UN as a breach of international law — stipulates that settlement construction in the West Bank that was carried out in good faith, namely without the knowledge that the land was privately owned, would be recognized by the government provided the settlers had some kind of state assistance — which in some cases could be as simple as having existing infrastructure, since most infrastructural services fall under the purview of state ministries.

Under the bill, the government will be able to appropriate land for its own use if the owners are not known. If the owners are known, they will be eligible for either yearly damages amounting to 125 percent of the value of leasing the land, a larger financial package valued at 20 years’ worth of leasing the plots, or alternate plots.

Israeli parliament members vote during a Constitution, Law, and Justice, Committee meeting regarding the so-called Regulation Bill, which is designed to avert the court-ordered demolition of the West Bank outpost of Amona, in the Knesset on November 30, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)
Israeli parliament members vote during a Constitution, Law and Justice, Committee meeting regarding the so-called Regulation Bill, which is designed to avert the court-ordered demolition of the West Bank outpost of Amona, in the Knesset on November 30, 2016. (Issac Harari/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has warned that the bill breaches both local and international law, and indicated that the High Court is likely to strike it down. Some officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who voted for the bill along with all but one member of his coalition — have warned that the law could see Israeli officials prosecuted in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The bill is expected to pass its final readings by December 14.

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