Cabinet Decrees Two – Stage Evacuation of Elon Moreh

The Cabinet decided today that the evacuation of Elon Moreh will proceed in two stages, a compromise that appears to have satisfied the Gush Emunim but was assailed by some opposition members of the Knesset as an evasion of the Supreme Court’s orders. The high court ruled on October 22 that the settlement was established illegally on seized Arab lands and set a 30-day deadline for its removal.

The Cabinet announced today that 30 acres of land would be evacuated this week in compliance with the deadline and the remaining area, about 140 acres, “within a month to a month-and-a-half.” The 30 acres were referred to specifically in the appeal filed by Arab villagers against the land seizure. The Cabinet said that land would be returned to its owners and they would be offered financial compensation for the time it was used without their consent.

The remaining acreage was not the subject of the appeal and the Gush Emunim sought legal backing for the view that they were entitled to keep it. But the country’s top legal officials. Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir and Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir, rejected that argument. Both concurred today in the Cabinet’s plan for a two-stage evacuation.

NEW SITE HINGES ON GUSH COOPERATION

The decision has four clauses. In addition to the two-stage evacuation it binds the government to prepare a new settlement site for Elon Moreh at Djebil Kebir, about six miles from the present site, “in coordination with the settlers.” Cabinet sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency this evening that this means that the settlers will have about two weeks to decide to cooperate with the government and evacuate peacefully. If they refuse, the sources said, the government will not build the projected new settlement. The army and other authorities will need at least four weeks to prepare the new site for habitation. The project will cost about 11.60 million.

The Cabinet’s decision was sharply criticized by members of the Peace Now Movement. They said the government act irresponsibly by extending the time period for the evacuation and suggested that it be sued for contempt of court. MK Sholomit Alom of the Civil Rights Movement called the decision a surrender to blackmail and to threats of civil disobedience by the Gush Emunim. Yossi Sarid of the Labor Alignment said the Cabinet’s decision was a “despicable evasion of duty” and predicted that the second stage of the evacuation would never take place. Uri Avneri of the Sheli faction said the decision abolished “by stages” the rule of law in Israel.

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