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Illegal West Bank Outpost Likely to Be Legalized, Knesset Speaker Tells Settlers

Activists lobbying government against court-ordered eviction of Amona settlement say 'the wind is at our back.'

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein visited the illegal settlement outpost of Amona on Thursday, predicting that a way would be found to legalize it despite a High Court of Justice ruling ordering its evacuation.
“The solutions you proposed were once rejected by everyone,” Edelstein told the residents. “They said this was delusional. But in the end, more and more leaders and jurists have understood that there is justice in your claims and that there are ways to legalize this.
“From legalization, good things will emerge, and I hope a way is found to legalize this place without conflict,” he added.
Amona was built on privately owned Palestinian land. Part of it was violently evacuated a decade ago, and the court has ruled that the remainder must be vacated by December 25. The residents are seeking to prevent the evacuation, and the government is examining several possible ways of doing so.
Edelstein said he has discussed various solutions with legal experts – including relocating the settlement to nearby lands that are designated as absentee property, and thus controlled by the state – and that these solutions are lawful.
“There are various directions; I won’t get into the details,” he said. “The jurists I spoke with also understand that there’s a way to legalize this community.”
Asked by Haaretz whether Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit was one of those jurists, Edelstein replied, “Everyone involved in the issue understands that policemen and soldiers aren’t the solution,” meaning eviction.
“I’ve spoken with the prime minister about the issue,” he added. “I’m certain appropriate solutions will be submitted to him and he won’t be the person who stands in the way. The prime minister also understands that none of us wants to see a forcible or violent eviction or a fight within Israeli society.”
Settler leaders said they felt “the wind is at our back on this issue,” based in part on their talks with senior ministers.

Yotam Berger
Haaretz Correspondent

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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