Jerusalem (AFP) – Several hundred residents and supporters of an illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday rallied outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.
Around 500 mostly young protesters danced, played music and listened to speeches outside Netanyahu’s official residence, calling for the Amona outpost not to be demolished.
The fate of the outpost, where around 400 Israelis live near the Ofra settlement, has become a major issue in Israeli politics.
It was originally meant to be included in a bill which seeks to legalise around 4,000 homes across the West Bank but was later excluded after parliamentary discussion.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said attempts to legalise it would violate both Israeli and international law.
At Tuesday’s protest, 16-year-old protester Haim Goldberg said Amona symbolised the “slowing down” of the settlement process.
“If you take away one (outpost), it shows you can take away more and more,” said the Israeli-American.
“If we give in to this now, that shows there will be no stopping them later,” said Goldberg, who is from a settlement like Amona in the northern West Bank.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the far-right Jewish Home party, has opposed any attempt to make around 40 families move from Amona.
Israeli media reported on Tuesday he was close to agreeing on a deal with Netanyahu that would relocate the outpost to a nearby site on the same hill.
Israel Evenchen, a 61-year-old at the protest, said he wanted to see the supreme court replaced as it had a “left-wing bias” against settlements.
The supreme court has ordered the evacuation of settlers from Amona and the demolition of their homes by December 25 since the outpost was built on Palestinian land.
Some 400,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank, excluding annexed east Jerusalem, along with 2.6 million Palestinian.
The United Nations and most of the international community considers all such settlements illegal while Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not.