BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian landowners filed an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday rejecting demands to postpone the evacuation of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona, according to a statement by Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.
The appeal was filed by Israeli lawyers Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharaa, and called on the court not to respond to the demands of the Israeli State Attorney’s office, which requested the postponement on the basis that it could not arrange alternative housing for the residents of Amona before the target date of December this year.
The Amona outpost was slated for demolition following a 2008 Israeli Supreme Court decision after eight Palestinians from neighboring villages — with the support of Yesh Din — successfully petitioned the court to remove the outpost on grounds that the construction was carried out on privately owned Palestinian land.
After years of appeals from right-wing Israeli government officials, and attempts by Amona settlers to prove they had legally purchased the land, an Israeli police investigation in May 2014
found the entirety of the outpost to have been built on private Palestinian lands, and that the documents used by Amona residents to try claim their “purchases” were in fact forged.
In December 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered again that the outpost be demolished by December 2016.
Sunday’s appeal claimed that continuing to postpone the evacuation of Amona would be “an unjustified violation of the rights of the Palestinian landowners, who have been waiting for their lands to be evacuated from Israeli settlers for two decades.”
The landowners named in the appeal said that the Israeli State Attorney’s demand was “political and aims to prevent the evacuation from taking place at all.”
Yesh Din’s statement highlighted that establishing a new outpost for the settlers in Amona would require more than seven months of work, meaning that the possibility of Israeli authorities continuing to request further postponements of the evacuation in the future was very high.
There are an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Israeli settlers residing in 196 illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and a further 232 settler outposts considered illegal both by international law and Israeli domestic law, according to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ).
Human rights groups and international leaders have strongly condemned Israel’s settlement construction, claiming it is a strategic maneuver to prevent the establishment of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state by changing the facts on the ground.
Meanwhile, some members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, have publicly announced their support for plans aimed to annex the entirety of Area C — the area of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control.
While members of the international community rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right.
A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.