Avigdor Liberman: Israel to follow court order to demolish Amona settlement

Avigdor Liberman speaking during a Knesset meeting about Operation Protective Edge, Aug. 4, 2014. (Flash 90)

Avigdor Liberman speaking during a Knesset meeting about Operation Protective Edge, Aug. 4, 2014. (Flash 90)

(JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the Jewish state will raze the West Bank settlement of Amona by the Dec. 25 deadline ordered by the Supreme Court.

“I have said before and I say again to the settlers of Amona, there is a judgment of the Supreme Court and we shall honor it,” Liberman said Thursday, according to AFP.

The Amona outpost contains about 40 homes and was built on private Palestinian land. Since 1997, the Supreme Court has issued several demolition orders for the settlement.

Liberman also said Israel would evacuate Palestinians living in unauthorized  homes in the nearby village of Susya.

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“I think that the world, especially the free world… needs to respect our judicial system and it cannot be that it demands one thing of the Amona settlers and something else regarding what happens in Susya,” he said.

The matter of where the Amona and Susya residents will live remains unclear and controversial.

Liberman said the evacuation in Susya had been pushed off for three months in order to find alternative housing for the approximately 300 residents, AFP reported.

The defense minister also said the government “proposed a lot of alternatives” to the Jewish settlers whose homes were to be destroyed.

The Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said last month that the Defense Ministry was trying to relocate the Jewish settlers to land only meters away from Amona that had been confiscated from Palestinians.

The alleged plan drew condemnation from the U.S., with State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau saying it “would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that’s … counter to longstanding Israeli policy to not seize private Palestinian land for Israeli settlements.”

On Wednesday, State Department Spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. was “deeply concerned” by Israel’s plan to expand housing units in four West Bank settlements.