'The threat to Amona is receding'

Minister Gila Gamliel speaks about continuing efforts to avert demolition, including readiness to ram through legislation if necessary.

Shimon Cohen ,

Minister Gamliel (right) in Amona, today.
Minister Gamliel (right) in Amona, today.
Photo: Miri Tzachi

Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel visited Amona today (Monday), and expressed hope in a conversation with Arutz Sheva that the scheduled demolition of the Samaria town can be averted.

Amona has been slated for demolition around six months from now due to claims of ownership on the land on which it is built.

In Minister Gamliel's estimation, the prospect of a right-wing government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu going ahead with the demolition of an established community like Amona is getting further away, due to the determination of involved elements - with the Defense Minister chief among them - to arrive at a resolution which will avert the demolition.

"The government is looking for a solution that will allow for continued residence in the area," Gamliel explained, " in yesterday's Ministerial Committee for Legislation meeting, we demanded that the option for a legal amendment allowing for a resolution remain on the table. If a different solution isn't found, we'll vote on it in two days."

Minister Gamliel is referring here to proposed new legislation which will allow the government to simply overrule ownership claims in specific situations such as the Amona case, paying monetary compensation instead of handing the land back over to the old owners. The Attorney-General has advised against such measures, saying that they will be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on account of violation of property rights.

Gamliel continued: "There is no justification for a situation where a government that sets up electric lines and all the conditions for residence in an area, with the Housing Office encouraging people to come out and live there with assurances that all will be normal and fine, will then not answer the bell when really needed. This is why I'm visiting here with Regional Council Head Avi Roeh, to try to find the right answer."

When asked if the right answer might be to move the town a few dozen meters away, as has been proposed, the Minister replied: "We need to examine all options and their broader implications. What we do here will set a precedent for what happens to other towns. We need to establish clear principles which will set a clear direction for all of Judea and Samaria and I hope we'll find a solution that is acceptable to all."

Later in the interview Minister Gamliel was asked about the issue of property left by Jews fleeing Arab countries decades ago, a matter her office has been exploring recently.

"For the first time there is a real focused attention on trying to estimate the value of the property left behind by Jews from eastern lands, in order to enable a possible future lawsuit, if necessary.

"There are many things I can't talk about publicly, but I am hopeful that we'll be able to make strides in this matter."

Gamliel says the prospects for recovering the property are indeed realistic. "The process we are undergoing now can lead to a breakthrough by enabling us to accurately document the property claims, and we're also working on learning how we can sue for compensation."