The West Bank Migron outpost should be evacuated in the coming days even though
work is still being done on the new housing site for the 50 families, state
prosecutor Anat Mandel told the High Court of Justice on Tuesday.
spoke in response to a petition by the 50 Migron families to delay the
evacuation until the site of their new homes, located by the Psagot winery two
kilometers away on the same hilltop, is completed.
The hearing adjourned
without any comment by the justices as to the fate of the families. The High
Court has ordered them to relocate this month, because their homes were built
without permits on land classified by the state as belonging to private
During the hearing Yuval Funk of the World Zionist
Organization explained that there are 50 new modular homes ready to be populated
at the site. He added that all the homes are outfitted with working utilities,
and that only a fire permit was lacking.
The state has contracted the WZO
to build the new site at a cost of NIS 35 million, head of the WZO settlements
division Danny Kritchman later told The Jerusalem Post.
that he had himself inspected the site on Tuesday afternoon and found it
suitable for habitation, even though work was still clearly continuing
In court, Funk gave a timetable for construction’s completion. The
development work would be done by the end of the week, he said, although that
wouldn’t include time to install lawns and plants in the dirt yards around the
The community building and the synagogue were to be finished
within seven to 10 days, Funk said. The secretariat building would be completed
within four to five days, but the mikve would take another two months. The road
has been paved on half the site, and the rest would be completed by September 2,
he said. The sidewalks would be put in two days after the road’s completion, he
Guardrails, he added, would be put in Tuesday evening, but could
take three more work sessions to fully install.
The issue of whether
security fences were also needed was still under debate, Funk said.
the engineer working on the site for the Binyamin Regional Council, Eli Barkal,
said that it could take anywhere from two weeks to a month to complete the
site. In particular he noted the electricity had not been
Apart from the construction issues, the court also heard
arguments with respect to a petition by 17 families from Migron who claim to
have purchased three land lots at the site: 2, 10 and 23. They have asked the
court to allow them to remain in their homes while their purchase claim is
validated by the court.
Initially the Ministerial Committee on
Settlements said the buildings could remain if the land purchase claim was
validated. But the Attorney-General’s Office in its response to the court last
week said that only 25 percent of lot 23 was purchased, and so it was not
possible for the settlers to live there.
With respects to lots 2 and 10,
it said, the only way to access the land was by trespassing on abutting
Palestinian property. However, if the purchase claim were valid, it would
consider allowing the buildings on lot 10 to remain.
But, it added, there
was no legal way for settlers to live on the land, and therefore all families
must evacuate the site as ordered by the court.
On Tuesday, however,
attorney Ze’ev Scharf, representing the 17 families, said that based on state
maps it was possible to access the site. Moreover, he charged, the two
Palestinians who owned the lots in question had sold the land before they
Therefore, there is no remaining claim to the land, he
“There is not a single petitioner here whose name is registered on
a land deed,” Scharf said.
He charged that there was no official owners
who opposed the settlers presence on the land.
Scharf further charged
that Peace Now, which initially filed its petition against the outpost on behalf
of the Palestinian land owners, had done so due to political motivations and not
because they cared about Palestinian land rights.
During the debate
Scharf clarified for the court that the Construction and Housing Ministry had
paid for the outpost’s infrastructure when it was first constructed over a
But Michael Sfard who represents Peace Now and the
Palestinian landowners, said it was impossible to believe the settlers purchase
claim. The landowners, he said, had legally fought for years to regain their
property, but did not live to see the end of the case. Why would they suddenly
sell the land before they died? he asked.
But the issue with respect to
the three lots, he said, was rule of law.
The settlers built without
permits on private Palestinian property and they must now leave that property,
Sfard said. If they believe they had a valid purchase claim, they should
authenticate it, pursue the proper permits and rebuild. he said.
court’s decision, Sfard said, had wider implications beyond Migron, whose
resident had essentially led a “revolt” against the state’s laws by “stealing”
land and building on it.
Among those present in the court were two
Palestinians who claim to have inherited the land on lots 2, 10 and 23 from the
initial owners, as well as a Palestinian landowner of other property in
After the hearing, Sfard said that he believed the purchase
claims were fraudulent and that the police were investigating
Migron residents Itai Harrel said that one thing was clear after
the hearing: The land on these three lots had belonged to Jews.
he hoped that the court would now let the families who lived on those lots
“All the legal evidence points to the fact that we should
remain,” Harrel said.