“Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their fruit.” Jeremiah 29:5 (The Israel Bible™)
The first new Jewish community built with official sanction in more than 25 years will be inhabited on Monday, filled with the residents of Amona, who were expelled from their homes 14 months ago by order of the Supreme Court.
Temporary caravilla dwellings were set down in the new community of Amichai for the 42 families of Amona, who engaged in a protracted and highly publicized legal battle to remain in their homes, which they lost in February 2017. They have since resided together in a dormitory in the nearby community of Ofra.
In 2014, in a case brought years earlier by the Yesh Din pro-Palestinian legal aid organization, the Supreme Court found that a portion of the community of Amona was built on land belonging to Palestinians, and that the entire community should be destroyed.
Despite efforts on the part of the ruling coalition, the Israeli government was not able to prevent the demolition of the community, but managed to pass a “Regulation Law” allowing the government to expropriate land upon which Jewish communities were built in good faith or with government support, even if Palestinians later came to claim ownership of the lands. That legislation was frozen by the Supreme Court in August.
However, the coalition was able to go forward with a deal it clinched with Amona’s residents, promising them a new community in exchange for peaceably relinquishing their homes.
Amichai is situated north of Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah, between the Jewish communities of Shilo and Eli.
“We are looking forward to entering our new homes, which we were able to establish with the blood of our hearts, with determination and faith, love for the land and for Zionism,” said Avichai Boaron, head of Amona’s secretariat.
The construction of permanent homes will begin in the coming months and is slated to reach 102 houses. However, roughly a third of those homes will have to pass legal hurdles, as new petitions have been filed by Palestinians who claim the land demarcated for the homes belongs to them.
The Supreme Court earlier this month froze compensation funds earmarked for the Amona expellees, saying they should not be compensated for their losses because they built their homes illegally.