Amona residents vote down compromise proposal on evacuation

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Residents of the West Bank outpost of Amona voted against a proposal offered by the state to move them peacefully to a nearby area.

The vote, with some 58 residents against the deal and 20 for it, came early Wednesday morning, following a ten hour meeting of the residents to discuss the compromise and their situation.

In a news conference on Thursday, the head of the residents, Avichai Boaron, said the proposal offered no guarantees that the families would be able to move to the available land in a different area of the mountain and remain there.

“The state made no commitment to anything and it is putting a gun to our heads,” Boaron said. He described the deal as “Swiss cheese” and also said: “We were prepared to accept the destruction of our homes by moving from home to another so long as a Jewish town remained on the mountain and as long as our children could continue walking the paths of their childhood.”

Despite the Amona residents saying they are open to other ideas for solutions for a peaceful evacuation, the government has said this is the last offer it is going to make.

Boaron also called on supporters of Amona to come to the outpost and remain there in support until its evacuation, which government officials have told Israeli media will be “very soon.” Boaron urged supporters to respect the security forces that will evacuate the outpost and called for “passive resistance.”

Rumors had circulated late Wednesday night that the evacuation would take place on Thursday morning, which failed to occur.

The evacuation of the outpost, which the Supreme Court determined was built on private Palestinian land, must take place by Dec. 25, the first day of Hanukkah. The state has petitioned for extensions of the date, saying it needed more time to come up with a new housing solution for the families that live there, but have been denied.  At least three other demolition orders have been issued since 1997.

A clause that would have prevented the evacuation of Amona was removed from a controversial bill that would legalize West Bank outposts built on Palestinian land. The new compromise that would see the 40 families moved to a nearby plot of land on the same hilltop was announced earlier in the week by Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli soldiers and border police officers reportedly have been training for the evacuation. In 2006, a confrontation between settlers and police forces attempting to evacuate them turned violent, leaving many injured.