Photographer: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images

Israel Reaches Deal With Settlers on Outpost Slated for Removal

  • Netanyahu sought compromise to avoid forced evacuation
  • Court said West Bank settlement is on private Palestinian land

Israel’s government reached a solution to relocate members of an outpost that was slated for dismantlement later this month, avoiding what could have been a violent confrontation.

Leaders of the community met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who presented an offer for relocation of some members to an adjacent plot and others to a nearby community, according to the Hebrew media. Netanyahu’s spokesman confirmed via text message that an agreement had been reached. Members of the West Bank outpost approved the plan with 45 voting in favor and 29 against, according to a community Twitter account.

“Amona’s decision was not an easy one,” according to the community tweet, referring to the name of the outpost. “All who voted FOR did that with a heavy heart, since so much is on the balance.”

The government has been seeking to find ways to avoid a forced evacuation of the community, which the Supreme Court ruled was built on private Palestinian land and would therefore have to be removed. The issue had split Israel’s pro-settlement camp, with some wary of irritating U.S. President Barack Obama in his last months in office and of breaching international law, while others saw the dismantlement as a betrayal of Israeli settlers.

Netanyahu, who personally invested dozens of hours to try to find a solution to the crisis, sought to convey that he was working to advance the interest of settlers.

“In recent months, especially in the past few weeks and the last few days, and yesterday, we have been making very great efforts to reach an agreed-upon solution in Amona,” he said in a Cabinet meeting Sunday. “We did so out of goodwill and love for settlement; love for settlement, indeed so. There has not been a government that showed more concern for settlement in the Land of Israel and no government will show more concern.”

The removal of the outpost comes as some settlers see an opportunity to ramp up their building efforts. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday nominated lawyer David Friedman as ambassador to Israel, a staunch supporter of settlements who opposes the two-state solution with the Palestinians. Naftali Bennett, leader of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, praised the nomination, calling Friedman a “great friend of Israel.”

The state will request an extension for the evacuation notice in order to allow time for the implementation of the compromise deal, according to the Times of Israel.

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