Some fear that the Israeli Supreme Court’s final decision to demolish the settlement of Amona (pictured after its previous demolition in 2006) may mark the beginning of what could be the end of the Jewish settlements.
Overlooking the town of Ofra, the flagship of the settlement enterprise in the so-called “West Bank,” Amona is sought after by the Palestinians as a prime target. This small outpost, they believe, could be the first piece in a legal domino effect that brings an end to the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.
Amona, which was actually approved by Israel’s government in 1995, is slated for demolition no later than December 25, 2016. The 40 families living there will be left to fend for themselves.
But Amona is just a microcosm of Israel’s broader unwillingness to declare the rightful sovereign in the West Bank. As such, understanding the Amona case is vitally important. Unfortunately, the mainstream media, which is ideologically committed to the two-state solution, makes it very difficult to get unpolluted information.
Given the above, it is no surprise to hear the residents of Amona referred to as land-stealers. Media commentators who otherwise care little for the Bible (or for truth in general) are using the story Naboth’s Vineyard (1 Kings 21) to paint Jewish settlers as modern versions of Ahab and Jezebel. Lest there be any misunderstanding – Israelis, not Palestinians, are using our own legal system to accuse Jews of stealing the Land of Israel.
Finding the truth, therefore, depends much on who one chooses to trust. In this case, I am depending on the trustworthy journalist Yehuda Yifrach, head of the legal desk at Makor Rishon. As a former resident of Amona, he has been closely following the legal case against the outpost since 2004.
When I told Yifrach that it was difficult to find one’s bearings with regards to this story, he said it was the same for many of the settlers themselves, whom the media had managed to confuse. Yifrach sought to clarify the issue in an article entitled “I Saw An Upside-Down World,” from which the following extract is taken:
“The petitions of Yesh Din and Peace Now [both extreme left-wing NGOs] didn’t come out of concern for the property rights of oppressed Palestinians. They are part of a warfare that uses the law to force Israel to unilaterally withdraw.
“When the Amona case reached the Supreme Court, the Israel Civil Administration [which administers the West Bank] argued that the land [upon which Amona was built] was previously registered to Jordanian officers and sheiks [who claimed it following Jordan’s illegal annexation of the West Bank in 1950]. When Amona’s case was brought before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, it was made plain that the land belonging to two out of nine of the [Palestinian] petitioners lies outside the settlement’s boundaries.
“The two remaining petitioners owned only half an acre of the settlement’s total 123 acres, though the specific location of the plots within this area could not be determined. But the State Attorney’s office chose to ignore this, thus turning that half acre into an iodine drop that stained the whole area, even after the petitioners were compensated with 15 acres, instead of the mere half acre they actually owned, at the southern end of the outpost. Rather than recognize a signed agreement between the settlement and the petitioners to partition the land, the Supreme Court adopted the State’s position.”
Amona will most likely be demolished. But the real crime is the deceitful smearing of the Jewish settlers as land robbers. When asked how the State Attorney’s office could fall into the trap of these anti-Israel NGOs, Yifrach lamented that it had done a sloppy job. He added that radical left-wing lawyers employed by the State Attorney’s office were working to implement their political agenda.
In the final analysis, though such NGOs are a real menace, Yifrach says, and I must agree, that the responsibility for Amona’s fate and whatever that may mean for the settlement enterprise as a whole lies primarily with the State of Israel.