Far-left groups, Israelis from the community of Amona, and government representatives were in the High Court Tuesday to argue over the fate of Amona, a small Jewish town north of Jerusalem.
Several homes in Amona have been destroyed after Palestinian Authority resident Arabs made claims to the land on which they were built. Now, far-left groups in Israel are seeking the demolition of the remaining homes, which were not built on disputed land.
Previously, Supreme Court judges Asher Grunis, Esther Hayut and Hanan Meltzer agreed with Arab and far-left petitioners that a lawsuit calling to demolish Amona should be expanded to include the entire community.
Amona residents say they own the land on which the remaining homes sit. The government has asked not to be required to enforce further evictions.
Attorney: Israelis live there at the government’s request
The attorney for Amona residents, Harel Arnon, expressed residents’ frustration with the government. “Amona wasn’t established by thugs who built secretly in the night,” he reminded the court. “It was built by the authorities, with their knowledge and with government funding.”
“It’s true that some things were done wrong,” he continued. “Agreements were not always signed, land rights were not always clarified. But the state built [Amona], and now denies it.
“The families here are there because the state sent them there. This is a community, not an outpost,” he added.
Arnon noted that by law, the government does not need to demolish the town simply because the land may have owners who have not yet come forth. “The state has the authority to lease land, while preserving its productive value for the owner,” he argued.
The court must consider the potential damage to the human rights of the Israelis currently living in the town, he said. “The current residents have basic rights which cannot be pushed aside without reason,” he argued.
‘Arab plaintiff – a member of Hamas’
A second attorney, Mordechai Weiss, questioned the plaintiffs’ motives. “The ‘public plaintiff’ is the head of the Kfar Silwan council, and is ready to sacrifice the real owners’ money – if they really are residents of his village – for the sake of his political agenda,” he accused.
“He is a member of Hamas, who is not suspected of being overly humanitarian,” Weiss said.
He, like Arnon, expressed upset at the government’s about-face. “The government showed residents forms according to which [Amona] was abandoned government property, sent them to live there, invested tens of thousands of shekels, and now is denying it,” he accused.
“It’s reminiscent of something, like ‘don’t spit into the well you drank from,’” he said. “It’s like sending a soldier off to war, and then when he is killed, telling his orphans to make do themselves.”
Leftists’ attorney: They should have known
Attorney Michael Sefard, representing the left-wing groups, accused the attorneys for Amona of “false naivety.”
“My colleague, attorney Arnon, said they discovered there were problems with the land in 2005. First of all, I don’t know, if I were going to put down stakes somewhere I check that the land does not belong to anyone. I go check,” he said.
“And if they had checked, they would have found that it was land set aside for agriculture, and that nothing could be built there,” he argued.
Sefard also mentioned the individual case of Amona resident Rabbi Yair Frankel, who, he said, continues to live in a part of Amona where homes were destroyed. “He continues to live on stolen land, and this is the naivety they want to build their legal arguments on,” he charged.