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'Settlement' Issue Stirs Protests, Legislation

Amona, Screen Capture

JERUSALEM, Israel – Residents of Amona, a Samarian Jewish community slated for demolition in 10 days, took part in a protest march Monday morning in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, along with leading rabbis, professors, mayors and regional council heads from Judea and Samaria, participated in the march.

Meanwhile, a controversial outpost regulation bill presented for its first reading in the Knesset Monday, with second and third readings to follow, is expected to pass.

The bill, which would grant legitimacy to Israeli "settlements" in Judea and Samaria built on good faith, is supported by the right and opposed by the left. The legislation is designed to prevent destruction of homes allegedly constructed on "private" land. This law would affect approximately 4,000 of the estimated 430,000 Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria.

Participants noted that even if the regulation bill passes, it would not prevent the destruction of Amona on February 8.

"The regulation law appearing before the Knesset today is the result of the persistent and just struggle of Amona's residents," the statement read. "We will not allow the government to abandon them to their fate and leave them outside the law. We are here today to say loud and clear, bold leadership is required, leadership with red lines. Erasing a 20-year-old community is a red line, and it won't pass quietly. We are all with Amona's residents in their struggle."

Click here to read a recent commentary by Dr. Moshe Dann, entitled "Is Amona Built on Private Palestinian Land?"

The statement further blamed the government's "failure to act."

"The demolitions scheduled for February are the direct result of the government's failure to act," the statement read. "The demolition orders by the High Court and the failure of the government to act are a clear expression, one among many, that illustrate the ongoing, organized injury to the efforts to live a normal life by residents of Judea and Samaria."

In December, Amona's residents said the government led them "astray."

"We feel that we have been led astray, along with the public, especially voters for the national camp. We see you as responsible for this farce. We have no choice but to renew our public protests and to call on the thousands who support us to once again pick up the struggle against removing us from our homes," their statement read.

Netanyahu earlier promised to provide residents of Amona with temporary housing on a nearby hilltop in exchange for peaceful evacuation, but it failed to materialize after Palestinian Arabs claimed that property as well.

During a recent meeting with the prime minister, residents of nearby Ofra also facing demolition of nine homes built at the edge of town, agreed to postpone planned protests following Netanyahu's commitment for 68 new apartment homes there and a provision in the regulation bill that would grant zoning rights to towns and cities in Judea and Samaria.

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