AmonaAmona PR division

Residents of the embattled Samarian community of Amona have rejected an offer to relocate the town north to the Shilo bloc, Amona’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yair Frank, said on Sunday.

Amona, a small town near Ofra, north of Jerusalem, is slated for demolition by the end of the year. The Supreme Court ruled that the community was built on privately owned Arab land, and thus illegal.

Since then, coalition members and ministers have sought solutions for Amona, ranging from the use of absentee owner laws to repossess the land, to the construction of a new community near Shilo.

The Defense Ministry, which has proposed the latter option and is currently awaiting approval from the state Attorney General, calls the move a “relocation”, though it would entail the demolition of the existing community. The plan was first announced during the tenure of former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Frank said the residents of Amona have rejected the Defense Ministry’s proposal outright.

“‘Relocation’ really means expulsion,” said Rabbi Frank, “and if it will happen, it will be by force. Just as you would not offer to get divorced in order to marry another woman, we will not leave Amona. We want to legalize the town in its present location.”

Rabbi Frank said he was optimistic about Amona’s chances, saying an alternative to the Defense Ministry’s plan was making progress.

“Recently there’s been real progress made towards an arrangement for the town [to legalize it], so I’m surprised by the public statements about relocation. The ethical solution is that whoever is listed [as the owner] in the old Jordanian Land Registry will get pecuniary compensation – that’s the best solution possible.”

“There are other solutions for legalizing the [current] location,” Rabbi Frank continued. “We expect from all the good people [involved] to put together a law to legalize [Amona] and [provide] legal solutions.”

Referencing promises of support for expellees during the 2005 Gaza Disengagement, Rabbi Frank said that experience had taught Amona residents not to trust such assurances.

“We’re now 11 years after the expulsion [from Gaza]. Everyone knows there’s no logic in demolishing [the town]. Aside from the suffering of the families, all that will be left [of the location] is a desolate hill, just like the ruins of Migron and the Givat HaUlpana [neighborhood of Beit El].”

“There are senior jurists who found all kinds of solutions, and just as in the case of the [Natural] Gas Plan outline which despite a ruling by the Supreme Court [against it], the Prime Minister said the court had erred and the Knesset is offering a [solution], so too with Amona the Knesset can fix this error.”