“Israeli Outposts’ Reallocation Game” New Israeli Manipulation to Legalize the illegal Outpost of Amona North of Ramallah Governorate

Posted: 30/08/2016

 

On August 11, 2016 , what is-so-called ““The Custodian of Absentee property & Israel Land Authority of Judea and Samaria ” attached to the Israeli Ministry of Defense/Civil Administration , Yousi Sigal, published in Al-Quds” Palestinian daily newspaper an expropriation orders for 32 pieces of lands east of the illegal Israeli settlement of ‘Ofra northeast of Ramallah Governorate.

According the military order, 32 pieces of lands slated for expropriation , where according to  the military order , these lands  classified as abandoned properties and to be confiscated as an absentees.


The announcement published in Al-Quds newspaper

An analysis conducted by the geo-informatics department at the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem-ARIJ showed that the targeted pieces of lands located 1200 meters away from the illegal settlement of ‘Ofra northeast of Ramallah Governorate.

More than that, the Arial photos analysis showed that the targeted lands (240 dunums) located just few dozens meters eastward to the illegal nearby outpost of ‘Amona and even outside of the so-called “Master plan of ‘Ofra settlement. Accordingly, the Israeli intention to expropriate the 32 pieces of lands is not more than an innovative Israeli maneuver to legalize the illegal settlement outpost of ‘Amona. See the map and the Arial photos below:

 

Obviously, It can be assumed that the takeover's purpose is to allow the relocation of the settlers of Amona illegal outpost  from the land they are currently occupying to a nearby plot. According to the declaration ,the Palestinian owners  of the land can submit their objections within the next 30 days.

‘Amona is an illegal Israeli outpost built  on Silwad town lands in the year  2001 during the second Palestinian intifada. Amona is located on a hill overlooking ‘Ofra settlement northeast of Ramallah Governorate.

Unsurprisingly , Amona's construction was supported by the Israeli occupation government that encouraged building new colonial entities in the West Bank including the eastern part if the city of Jerusalem. Since then, the successive Israeli  governments have been supporting the outpost by providing them with an agricultural road network, electricity and water; let alone providing colonists with unlimited protection by turning most of the surrounding agricultural lands into buffer zone, depriving many people from taking advantage of their lands. It is worth pointed that parts of the roads serving Amona are built on lands in Area B according to Oslo Accords.

Amona outpost is undergoing radical expansion as the caravans are being replaced with prefab houses and military towers are being installed all around the outpost to ensure and accelerate the expansion process.

Chronology of main events related to Amona development:

In the year 2001, the illegal outpost of Amona was founded on a strategic hilltop in Silwad town north of Ramallah Governorate and about 1 kilometer away from the closest settlement of ‘Ofra.

On the summer  of 2007 the Israeli settlers of Amona outpost embarked on opening a 2 km agricultural road to serve Amona outpost and their plans of expansion at the expense of Silwad lands. That prompted Silwad village council as well as a large number of farmers to raise an objection at the Supreme Court of Israel against land appropriation and the project of opening the road in 2008. The court's ruling was in favor of farmers as it asked for full closure of the road.

It should be marked that the ruling was not respected by the colonists of Amona and the Israeli army alike. On the contrary, after the ruling, colonists set about expanding the outpost and confiscating vast areas of land surrounding it under the protection of the army.

April 30, 2013: The Israeli High Court of Justice approves another postponement to dismantle Amona outpost. The postponement come to the one set for April 30, 2013 to July 15, 2013. The outpost was established in 1995, and was developed gradually with the addition of structures on Private Palestinian lands.

April 21, 2014 : Israeli settlers of the illegal outpost of Amona reopened an agricultural road that connects the outpost with  bypass road No.60 ignoring the ruling of the Court of Justice in September 2013 to shut the road off after it was deemed illegal as it had been built on privately owned Palestinian land.

May 7, 2016 :Representatives of the “Samarian community of Amona” responded to a report in the Haaretz newspaper of a deal to evacuate their homes in exchange for the green-lighting of a new town.

The Defense Ministry and Amana organization – which promotes Jewish settlement of “Judea and Samaria” – had agreed to evacuate Amona and in exchange construct a new town more than three times its size, with 139 housing units compared to 40 in Amona.

Settlers of Amona spoke out against the aforementioned deal, saying that they intended to fight the plans for eviction.

May 11, 2016 : The Israeli daily newspaper “Haaretz” reported that the so called “Israeli Ministry of Defense” jointly with the “Amana” settlement movement are planning to build a new settlement in the occupied West Bank . The planned settlement is to be built on a hilltop east of Shilo settlement in Nablus Governorate and it would accommodate Israeli settlers currently living in Amona settlement outpost, which is slated for evacuation by the end of the year 2016.

The aforementioned Israeli newspaper also reported that the planned settlement is intended to include 139 new settlement units for 40 Settlers’ families living in the Amona outpost (around 50 mobile homes). Note that land slated for the construction of the new settlement is declared by Israel as “State Land” where Israel assumes control over such land classification in the occupied Palestinian territory

July 31, 2016 : Speaking to Arutz Sheva news site, “Rabbi Frank: from Amona outpost said the residents of Amona have rejected the Defense Ministry’s proposal outright for relocation of Amona outpost.

“‘Relocation’ really means expulsion,” said Rabbi Frank, “and if it will happen, it will be by force. Just as you would not offer to get divorced in order to marry another woman, we will not leave Amona. We want to legalize the town in its present location.”

The Rabbi added that “There are other solutions for legalizing the [current] location,” Rabbi Frank continued. “We expect from all the good people involved to put together a law to legalize Amona and provide legal solutions.”

August 7, 2016 : the relocation idea of the Amona outpost was raised by the so-called “regularization committee”, a committee established by the Israeli government to find a solution for the illegal outposts issue. On August 7, 2016, the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, stated that he will consider the option of moving Amona to a nearby absentees' property despite "weighty legal issues." 

August 11, 2016 : what is-so-called ““The Custodian of Absentee property & Israel Land Authority of Judea and Samaria ” attached to the Israeli Ministry of Defense/Civil Administration , Yousi Sigal, published in Al-Quds” Palestinian daily newspaper an expropriation orders for 32 pieces of lands east of the illegal Israeli settlement of ‘Ofra and adjacent to Amona outpost northeast of Ramallah Governorate.

‘Ofra settlement

"Ofra" is an illegal Israeli settlement that was built in 1975, in east northern Ramallah on lands confiscated from Silwad and Ein Yabrod. The settlement occupies an area of 2340 dunums and inhabited by 3137 settler.

On  January 09, 2014, al- Quds Newspaper, on page 34, published an announcement by the so-called Supreme Council of Planning/ Settlement Sub-Committee of the Israeli Civil Administration featuring the deposit of a detailed master plan no. (6/221) that reveals the intention to use vast areas of  Palestinian confiscated lands, particularly within natural blocks no. (2,6) of Ein Yabrod village and (17,20) of Silwad town for colonial activities and expansion of the colony of Ofra colony that is founded on the two mentioned places (Ein Yabrod and Silwan), east of Ramallah.

According to the new plan featured in official Hebrew dailies as well as al-Quds Newspaper, the Settlement Sub-Committee intends to change the usage of land in the abovementioned blocks so that it will be used in amending and expanding the main road leading to the colony. Besides, the agricultural land will be used for residential purposes that include developing the infrastructure of the colony and adding new facilities. 

The head of Ein Yabrod village council asserted to LRC field observer that:  "Since 1992 and until 2001, vast areas of Silwad and Ein Yabrod were confiscated under "security" pretexts for the sake of Ofra. Up to this moment, legitimate owners of the confiscated lands have been denied access to their properties. Now with the new master plan, the lands will be engulfed for the colony, its infrastructure and expansion and owners will lose hope to reach their lands again."

It should be marked that Ofra has got a big share of tenders  for expansion and construction of new residential units. At the end of November, 2013, new tenders for the construction of 34 residential units were deposited. Noteworthy, Israel declared it will not give up on Ofra colony even when reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The Dilemma of the Israeli Outposts and Relocation Game

The outposts' phenomena started in 1996 following the signing of the Oslo Peace Accord between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel in 1995, which also called for Israeli to halt its settlement related activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. From that time on, the outposts spread throughout the occupied territory with unofficial governmental support, even though the Israeli Army has facilitated all procurement related to establish these outposts.  The outpost have flourished particularly during the era of Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister, who supported the outpost and overlooked financial support from several Israeli ministries to these outposts; particularly, Defense, Housing and infrastructure ministries, which led to the establish of 232 outposts from 1996 to date.

Outposts, are a technique improvised by the Israeli settlers in 1996 along with indirect government concession to confiscate more Palestinian lands and build new settlements. The practice involves capturing land on Palestinian hilltops or in-close perimeter of existing settlements (1mile to 4 miles away) and setting-up mobile caravans, declaring the site as a new settlement or a new neighborhood of adjacent settlement. Israel PM Ariel Sharon, the utmost supporter of settlements and outposts and a pioneer in his calling for settlers to take control of hilltops in the West Bank before 'losing them to Palestinians in negotiations'.   

It seems that Israel is employing the illegal outposts erected by the settlers throughout the West Bank to its fullest advantage. It became clear that whenever the heat is on, the Israeli government finds a salvage talking about weeding-out the outposts rigged by the settlers on the hilltops at various locations of the West Bank. Although, these outposts originated with government blessings and many times with the assistance of the Israeli Army and under its protection, it has proven to be most useful as propaganda gimmick whenever the international community tackles the settlements issue. The evacuation game played by the Israeli consecutive governments is no longer valid or convincing, as the governments orders for evacuation of the illegal outposts are either ignored or pretense between the settlers and the Army. Frequently, outposts set for evacuation have no inhabitants living at the sites and only a handful or less of mobile homes with no infrastructure whatsoever. Obviously,   the decision to take an evacuation order to such sites is not startling in anyway, even with the settlers' 'will-played retort' to the order. It seems, that whenever the Israeli government decides to go-on all the way with its bogus orders to evacuate illegal outpost, it concede establishing several others or even worse; confer authorization and financial support to tender infrastructure (electricity, water, sewage and asphalt roads) to other outposts somewhere else in an initiating step to set-up a new settlement.

Overview…… Talia Sasson Report

In March 2005, the Israeli government attorney Talia Sasson submitted a report on the status of established Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank territory upon the request of the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The report acknowledged more than 125 outpost and that they were established with the indirect support of many Israeli ministries who disregarded the Israeli judicial counselors decision to stop all indirect financial support to these outposts.

Sasson also indicated in her report that all the outposts in the West Bank are 'illegal', contrary to the contention of Sahoul Goldstein 'The Chairman of the Council of the Israeli Settlements', who claimed that all the established outposts are only neighborhoods of the Israeli settlements.

Currently ,and according to  the analysis of satellite images conducted by the GIS (Geographical Information System) unit at the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem ARIJ showed locations of 232 illegal outposts spread throughout the West Bank including the eastern part of the city of Jerusalem.

Furthermore, the bulk of these outposts were established in the years between 2002 and 2004 and are concentrated in the central and southern parts of the West Bank, mostly in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron governorates.  It’s worth mentioning that, the land on which the settlements and outposts were built are owned by Palestinians, and were appropriated by the Israeli government based on Israeli military and emergency laws.

 

Edmond Levi Report……Eradication of Palestine

On January 2012, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed a committee headed by the former Israeli Supreme Court Judge Edmond Levi to investigate the legal status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and also to examine whether the Israeli presence in the West Bank is to be considered an occupation or not.

The report which was handed to the Israeli cabinet on June 2012, states that Israel, and according to the committee’s interpretation to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949,  Israel did not classified as an occupying force, and accordingly all of the Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank are legal. More than that, the report considered conclusions and recommendations to abolish all kinds of obstruction and complications that faces the building and expansion in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank with an unjustified facilitation in the procedures related to settlements building.

Judge Levi remarking on his report: “Our basic conclusion is that from the point of view of international law, the classical laws of “occupation” as set out in the relevant international conventions cannot be considered applicable to the unique and sui generis historic and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades”.

Also, Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the report: “In my opinion, this report is important because it deals with the legalization and the legitimization of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria on the basis of facts, a variety of facts and arguments that should be seriously considered”.

On October 17, 2012the Israeli daily newspaper “Haaretz” revealed that Netanyahu government to adopt parts of Levy report on legal status of West Bank outposts soon: “Government will vote only on 'practical portions,' circumvent portion on legal status of West Bank”.  To read the original text of Levi report with its conclusions and recommendations see the link below:

http://israelipalestinian.procon.org/sourcefiles/The-Levy-Commission-Report-on-the-Legal-Status-of-Building-in-Judea-and-Samaria.pdf

 

Manipulation rather than Evacuation

More than 10 years since the so-called Sasson report issued with its aforementioned conclusions and recommendations ,  while the successive Israeli governments did not take any actions toward dismantling any of the illegal outposts.

Dramatically , the number of illegal outposts jumped and exceeds 230 illegal settlements outposts while a significant part from these illegal entities were relocated and legalized instead of being dismantled.

As a matter of fact ,the current Israeli government is different from its predecessors when it comes to the declarations to dismantle Israeli outposts. In fact, to declare government intention to dismantle illegal outpost became a ritual associated with every Israeli government that rises to power. However, while the call to dismantle outpost are made, the same Israeli government would have grant permission to Israeli settlers to erect outpost at some other locations or worse gives official approval to existing ones.

To Sum Up

The Israeli seizing of the Palestinian lands under any of claimed Israeli is a methodic  Israeli circumvent over the international law rules and international legitimacy resolutions, where all of the confiscation orders issued by Israel are illegitimate and contradicts with the United Nation Security council Resolutions 242 and 338 that  stipulate the illegality of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian lands and that includes all the confiscations, building illegal settlements and outposts and bypass roads,  constructing the Segregation Wall, destroying Palestinian properties and restricting their movement and all of the colonial practices conducted by Israel since June 4, 1967-present are illegal, null and void.

The existence of the Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank and their expansions are Illegal and contradicts with the international law rules, United Nations Security Council Resolutions such as 237 (1967), 271 (1969), 446 (1979), 452 (1979) ,465 (1980).

Resolution 446 March 22, 1979 calls on Israel to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories"

Also the resolution 452 of the 1979 “calls upon the Government and people of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.”

According to the Road Map of Peace – June 2003 , proposed by the Quartet (the four international entities, the United States of America, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations), Israel called on to dismantle all outposts that were erected since year 2001 in addition to freezing all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In May 2001, the head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories said that settlements are "equal in principle to war crimes". (Note: "The transfer, the installation of population of the occupying power into the occupied territories is considered as an illegal move and qualified as a 'grave breach.' It's a grave breach, formally speaking, but grave breaches are equal in principle to war crimes", Rene Kosirnik, head of the ICRC delegation to Israel and the OPT, press conference 17 May 2001).

Article XXXI of the 1995 Oslo agreement Israelis forbidden from building or planning to any project or settlements or any colonial expansion or any plan that lead to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The article provides “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations”.

More than that ,the Israeli expropriation of the Palestinian lands constitute a flagrant and grave breach for the International law rules and conventions (Art. 51 of the 1949 Geneva Convention II –Art. 147 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV- Art. 53 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV-Art. 23(g) of the 1899 Hague Regulations - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of, December 10, 1948, Articles 13 and 17 and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December 1966  :-

Articles 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention indicated that: Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. is a grave breach of the Convention.

Art. 23 of the Hague Convention of 1907 also provides: In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden to destroy or seize the enemy's property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;.

Article 53 of the same convention provides that 'any destruction by the Occupying power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or other public authorities or social or cooperative organizations is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.'

Article 147 of the convention considers 'extensive destruction and appropriate of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly' as a grave breach of the Convention and thus constitute a war crime.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of, December 10, 1948, Article 17 reads: 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.' Which means it bans Israel from destroying or confiscating the property of the Palestinians at any case.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. 

Article 12' of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December 1966: Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.

 

Prepared By  
The Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem
ARIJ