Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Amona Evacuees

The Netanyahu cabinet on Sunday voted to renew works at the new settlement of Amichai, which is intended to house the evacuees of Amona. Construction at the site has been frozen in recent weeks due to budgetary difficulties, Ha’aretz reported Sunday. The government is expected to approve the transfer of funds to the Interior Ministry, which will allow the construction of infrastructure for the settlement which is located near Shiloh in the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council.

Construction was halted in July after the Ministry of Construction and Housing announced that an additional tens of millions of dollars was required to complete the project. According to the proposal, which will be submitted for Cabinet approval Sunday, the Finance Ministry will transfer an additional $15.5 million to the Interior Ministry, which is part of the Ministry’s budget of $16.8 million that was allocated to building an infrastructure for the settlement before the evacuation of Amona. The new funds will cover the construction of roads, electricity, water and sewage systems.

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Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) held that the project required double the allocated budget, and was holding back the construction work at the site.

To date, the dubious High Court of Justice ruling that Amona be demolished because several narrow strips of land running through the settlement were being claimed by Arabs – and the same court’s insistence that said Arabs be more than adequately compensated rather than destroy an entire Jewish community – is costing the State of Israel at least $45 million. This includes the nearly $17 million allocated for the establishment of the new Amichai settlement, $11.2 million in compensations to the evacuees, including the nine families who were expelled evacuated from the nearby Ofra settlement. The rest of this astonishing sum was spent on the actual evacuation, the demolition and temporary housing for the evacuees.

Had the Amona lawsuit been conducted through a normal judiciary process rather than being encouraged to go directly to the High Court of Justice, claimants would likely have been unable to prove their case, and had they managed to convince a real court that their dubious evidence held water, they most likely would have been pressured by a normal court to settle for a monitory compensation for the land for a whole lot less than $45 million.

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