JERUSALEM (JTA) — Residents of an illegal West Bank outpost voted down a proposal offered by the state to move them peacefully to a nearby area.
The 58-20 vote against the proposal came early Thursday morning following a 10-hour meeting of Amona residents to discuss the compromise and their situation.
In a news conference Thursday, the head of the residents, Avichai Boaron, said the proposal offered no guarantees that the families would be able to move to the available land in a different area of the mountain on which the current outpost is located.
“The state made no commitment to anything and it is putting a gun to our heads,” said Boaron, who described the deal as “Swiss cheese.”
He also said: “We were prepared to accept the destruction of our homes by moving from one home to another so long as a Jewish town remained on the mountain and as long as our children could continue walking the paths of their childhood.”
While Amona residents say they are open to other solutions for a peaceful evacuation, the government has said this is the last offer it will make.
Boaron also called on Amona supporters to come to the outpost and remain there until the evacuation, which government officials have told Israeli media will be “very soon.” Boaron urged backers to respect the security forces that will evacuate the outpost and called for “passive resistance.”
Rumors had circulated late Wednesday night that the evacuation would take place Thursday morning, but it did not.
The evacuation of the outpost, which the Supreme Court determined was built on private Palestinian land, must take place by Dec. 25, the first day of Hanukkah. The state has petitioned the court for extensions of the date, saying it needed more time to come up with a new housing solution for the families that live there, but has been denied. At least three other demolition orders have been issued since 1997.
A clause that would have prevented the evacuation of Amona was removed from a controversial bill that would legalize West Bank outposts built on Palestinian land. The new compromise that would see the 40 families moved to a nearby plot of land on the same hilltop was announced earlier in the week by Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers reportedly have been training for the evacuation. In 2006, a confrontation between Amona settlers and police forces attempting to evacuate them turned violent, leaving many injured.