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Israel: Supreme Court Authorizes Extension of Amona’s Evacuation Deadline

(Dec. 28, 2016) On December 22, 2016, Israel’s Supreme Court granted the state’s request to extend the deadline for the evacuation of Amona, an unauthorized West Bank Jewish outpost that the Court had previously determined to have been built on land owned by individual Palestinians.  The 45-day delay beyond the December 25, 2016, deadline for the evacuation set by the Court in November was granted in consideration of statements made by the Amona residents and by the state that they would comply with the new evacuation order.  The December decision was rendered by Court President Justice Miriam Naor, with Justices Esther Hayut and Hanan Melcer concurring.  (HCJ 9949/08 Hamad v. Minister of Defense (Dec. 22, 2016), STATE OF ISRAEL: THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY; HCJ 9949/08 Hamad v. Minister of Defense (Nov. 14, 2016), STATE OF ISRAEL: THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY; HCJ 9949/08 Hamad v. Minister of Defense (Dec. 12, 2014), STATE OF ISRAEL: THE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY (all in Hebrew); see also Ruth Levush, Israel: Supreme Court Rejects Government Request to Further Delay Eviction of Settlement Built on Land Privately Owned by Palestinians, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Nov. 25, 2016).)

According to Naor, the state’s recent efforts to find last minute ways to accommodate the Amona residents, including by attempting “to find solutions that now raise these or others legal difficulties,” did not constitute a justifiable reason for further delay in implementation of the evacuation.  (Dec. 22, 2016, Decision, ¶ 16.)  In addition, she held, as solutions for the problem of the need to find temporary residences have already been found, according to the state, for most of the Amona families, it is unclear why similar solutions would not be suitable for the rest of the residents.  Moreover, the state had declared that it was ready for the evacuation on a date that had previously been set by the Court.  (Id.)

Under these circumstances, Naor decided, it was possible to have rejected the state’s request for an additional extension.  However, the Court authorized the 45-day postponement of the evacuation until February 8, 2016, in view of the Amona residents’ expressed commitment to evacuate the outpost peacefully and unconditionally, regardless of any promises made to them by the state for alternative housing.  (Id. ¶ 17.)  An additional ground for the Court’s authorization was the receipt of a promise by the state not to submit any additional requests for further extensions of the time limit.  (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.)