Photo Credit: TPS
Gush Etzion residents greet Netanyahu with protest signs

Several dozen residents of the Gush Etzion settlements block on Thursday gathered at the entrance to the town of Beitar Illit to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene against a High Court of Justice decree to demolish Netiv Ha’Avot, a small neighborhood of 17 homes adjacent to the town of Elazar.

Netanyahu was scheduled to visit Beitar Illit, a Haredi town of some 30,000 residents, to lay the cornerstone for a new neighborhood.

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Spokespeople for the Committee to Save Netiv Ha’Avot said they hoped the Prime Minister would stop to talk to protesters, but said they had not gotten any confirmation from Netanyahu’s office. But they added that even if the PM does not speak to them, he has a responsibility to intervene in order to save their community.

“The Prime Minister has got to get involved now and use the weight of his authority to stop the destruction of Netiv Avot,” said local resident Ami Gvirtzman. “There are several alternative options available; these must be considered now… Only the captain of this ship, the Prime Minister, can navigate this boat and push for a solution for us.”

Last September, the High Court of Justice gave the State until March 8, 2018 to demolish the site, following a series of appeals arguing against claims that the outpost had been built on privately owned Arab land. Last month, residents pitched a protest tent outside the Knesset, calling for legislation to save their community, but complained that barely any lawmakers bothered to attend.

Netiv Ha’avot was established in 2001, following a spate of murders on Route 60, the main north-south traffic artery running through the area, at the beginning of the Second Intifada. Peace Now, representing a group of residents from the nearby Arab town of al-Khader, petitioned the court to force the residents off the land.

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