Israel's High Court of Justice set a new dealine of Febuary 8 for the demolition of Amona, an illegally built West Bank settlement, which was scheduled to be demolished by Sunday. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
AMONA , West Bank, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Israel's High Court of Justice has postponed the scheduled demolition and evacuation of the Amona settlement on Palestinian lands in the West Bank for 45 days.
The unauthorized settlement of about 40 families was built on territory proven in court to be owned by individual Palestinian landowners. After two years of delays, an order was given Thursday to evacuate the community and destroy its buildings, with a Sunday deadline. The postponement ordered Thursday sets a new deadline of Feb. 8.
"This is a final and last extension, even if no alternative solution is found," the order said.
A plan by the Israeli government to resettle the Amona residents on nearby land, known as Parcel 38, fell through because of Palestinian legal challenges. The residents of Amona submitted a statement to the court indicating they will leave the settlement peacefully, and that their departure is independent of any promises the government may have made to resettle them.
Yesh Din, an organization in support of the Palestinian landowners, commented in a statement, "The state is not concealing the fact that there is currently no plan for transferring the Amona settlers and therefore the only aim of a delay is to try to find how the law can be circumvented."
Another group, working in support of the Amona residents and against their eviction, said, "Now the responsibility in upon the state and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, who committed in the coming 45 days to create homes for Amona residents on the hill [in the same area] and to preserve the community. The ball is in their court."
The controversy has highlighted the illegal settlement by Israelis on West Bank land which, although administered by Israel, is likely to be Palestinian territory if a two-state solution is ever implemented. Dozens of small settlements similar to Amona dot the West Bank, and critics like Yesh Din believe their removal has proven a hindrance to the peace process.