Yerushalayim (TPS) – Residents of the former Amona outpost welcomed the beginning of preliminary groundwork Tuesday on Amichai, a new Jewish community in northern Shomron, near the town of Shilo, that is scheduled to become their permanent home. But they also cautioned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the community has “suffered enough disappointments” and that they hold him personally responsible for the success of the new project.
“We pray [that the construction] continues undisturbed,” the residents said in a statement. “(But) our community expects the prime minister not to allow any hostile elements, whether they are left-wing groups or the judicial branch or others, to force the building to stop. We must not allow this success – the building of a new community in Yehudah and Shomron – to be turned into a failure and an about-face.”
The residents added a note of frustration at having lived for nearly five months in the dormitory of a religious seminary in Ofra, near the site of their original community, saying they felt betrayed and abandoned by Netanyahu and the government they by-and-large voted for. They also demanded the government fulfill the commitments made to the community prior to their eviction.
Amona residents were evicted from their homes and the community razed in February after a lengthy legal battle in which the courts determined that outpost was built on privately-owned Palestinian land.
“The people of Amona, the Binyamin Regional Council, members of the local planning committee and everyone else who has a role in this issue has done everything possible to comply with the legalities in an honest fashion. We have no other choice but to expect that the government does not allow left-wing groups or other left-wing elements to dictate reality once again,” the residents said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not react to the residents’ criticism, but rather noted that he is the first prime minister to approve a new settlement in more than 20 years.
“Today, work began on construction of a new community for the residents of Amona, as I promised. After decades, I have the honor of being the prime minister who gets to build a new community in Yehudah and Shomron,” said Netanyahu.
The Palestinians were quick to respond. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) said the new construction would thwart efforts by US President Donald Trump to re-start the Israel-Palestinian peace process.
“This announcement is a message coinciding with the arrival of the US president’s envoys to the region, which indicates that Israel is not interested in US efforts and is serious about thwarting these efforts as it did with previous US administrations,” Rudeineh said in a reference to this week’s visit to the region by Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and his senior adviser Jared Kushner.