Will Amona Actually Be Evacuated?
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
After multiple appeals and legal maneuvering the Israeli Supreme Court ruled months ago that the Amona Jewish settlement on Palestinian land on the West Bank must be evacuated by December 25. At this point the Netanyahu Government and the IDF appear prepared to proceed with the evacuation although there remain numerous last minute maneuverings on all sides of the issue.
The settlers—some of them—do not appear to be willing to evacuate themselves. The Army would prefer not to do the job but is prepared to act. The Netanyahu Government needs to continue to support the politics of its hardline coalition members, while recognizing the need to obey the Court ruling.
The latest wrinkle that has emerged in the dispute is the question of where the settlers will be permitted to go and whether adequate preparations have been made to receive them; something for which all parties already had months to prepare. The Government has once again asked the Court for a postponement for 45 days to relocate the families, despite the fact that they have been given NIS 135 million for resettlement purposes. There remains a dispute among the residents of Amona as to where to go, who should go where, how the monies should be allocated, etc. Meanwhile, the High Court has asked the settlers to leave peacefully on Saturday night.
The outcome of this confrontation will undoubtedly explode among various groups of American Jews. Political hardliners as well as many in the modern Orthodox community may protest against a forced evacuation by the army—even if it is Court ordered. Some of the right-wing politicians will use this event to push Netanyahu to build more settlements even before Trump is inaugurated—which just happens to be before a 45 day extension would expire–just to throw a final slap at Obama. Some of the rabbis of these settlers will likely also call upon the citizens to resist and the soldiers to disobey the orders. Such a move will only escalate the growing polarization between the more conservative Orthodox community and the larger and more moderate or liberal wing of the Jewish community, both in Israel and in the States.
Finally into the midst of this controversy, one could find Trump and his Ambassador to Israel-designate David Friedman. This may be their first chance to show Bibi how aggressively they will engage in supporting Israeli right-wing politics. Obama will most likely comment on the event one way or the other as matters transpire and Trump could easily back out on Christmas by saying he is not the President. Depending on his mood and how much Friedman might push him, however, Trump could be persuaded to react. It may well give an indication if Trump has any respect for a Palestinian claim for a State and for a two-state solution to the conflict.