Land to 'replace' Amona approved for building

Area in Binyamin region prepared for building of 'replacement' housing for Amona residents, who vow not to comply with any such schemes.

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Ido Ben Porat,

Photo: Amona residents council

The Israeli government has designated as state land the area where a new town is planned as a replacement for Amona, which is slated to be evacuated due to a Supreme Court decision.

The Samarian town of Amona is slated for evacuation and demolition in six months because of outstanding claims of ownership of the land on which it is built.

The land now designated for replacing it is around 395 acres in size, and is located east of Shilo in the Binyamin region just north of Jerusalem. Last week the work on designating it state land was completed.

Army Radio reports that new mapping of the area is required in order to advance building plans, including the intention to build 140 new housing units, of which 40 will be reserved for those evacuated from Amona, with the rest being sold on the free market.

At this stage the residents of Amona are opposed to any plan for relocation, even if they do have to leave their homes. The Prime Minister and other right-wing ministers are also trying to arrive at a solution that won't entail the forced evacuation of Amona.

The relevant minister are waiting on legal advice from Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, regarding a plan to use land immediately adjacent to Amona and to move the town's houses there, rather than building new housing in the more distant Binyamin region.

Yet the plan to establish an entirely new replacement town in Binyamin continues to be developed, though this requires zoning commission approval, and thus may take a long time to complete. The state land designation is only the first step in the process.

Amona residents said in response to this develoment: "We aren't going anywhere. We accept no alternative to resolving the issue with our houses here in Amona, and leaving the town where it is. Either we'll be in Amona or we won't. We strongly oppose the preparation of a neighborhood that'll promote a population transfer of the residents of Amona.

"Whoever is promoting this plan not only doesn't represent us and is acting against our wishes, but is also giving the Defense Minister, the Justice Minister, and the Prime Minister the illusion that this is a relevant alternative, which is not true. This attempt to 'gain another town', which we all know the residents of Amona won't live in, is just a cynical attempt to use the Amona tragedy in order to win approval for another building project. The entire Israeli public is tired of these schemes, and so are we. We won't cooperate with this.

"The responsibility for resolving Amona is upon the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, and the Justice Minister. Any eventuality other than a resolution keeping us here may lead to a repeat of the painful images from the demolition of houses in the town ten years ago," Amona's residents added.