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Israeli Settlers to Leave Illegal Outpost on Private Palestinian Land

Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant visits the settlement outpost of Amona. | Photo: AFP Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant visits the settlement outpost of Amona. | Photo: AFP
PALESTINE, December 18, 2016 - Israeli settlers at the Amona outpost on private Palestinian land in the West Bank agreed Sunday to evacuate the area after accepting a government-proposed deal to move to Israeli state-sanctioned — but internationally-illegal — settlements on nearby plots of occupied Palestinian territory.

Even as Israel militarily occupies, bulldozes and settles on Palestinian land in the West Bank, it considers some ultra-right settlements established on privately-owned Palestinian land to be illegal, as in the case of the Amona outpost, located northeast of Ramallah.

The Supreme Court had ruled that the 330 settlers in Amona were to leave by Dec. 25, after they concluded it was built on private land.

Settlers had at first refused to leave, but after an all-night meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two sides came to an agreement.


“After 20 years of pioneering settlements against all odds, and after two long years, we have decided to suspend the struggle," Amona residents said in a statement, brandishing themselves as victims in the situation.

"Until dawn this morning we made very great efforts to reach an agreed solution on Amona," Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

The agreement, which will place the settlers in two nearby plots of land, might still face obstacles, however, as some members appear to be holding out.

Some settlers have set up camp in the settlement’s synagogue and have built structures out of chains and metal rods in protest of the deal.

While all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, Israel differentiates between those it has approved and those it has not. Settlements such as Amona are deemed outposts and are different than traditional settlements in that they are not formally recognized by the Israeli government and are built on privately-owned Palestinian lands, rather than Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands in the case of government-sanctioned settlements.

For the new plan to be implemented, Netanyahu will be required to ask the court for a delay in the evacuation date.

The deal comes as there has been growing alarm in recent months that the construction of Jewish settlements on land internationally recognized as part of a future Palestinian state is killing off prospects for a peace deal based on the two-state solution.

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