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High Court orders Migron outpost evacuated
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
08/29/2012
Court rejects Migron residents' petition to delay eviction, demolition of homes; decision delays demolition of homes in "block 10."
 
Migron residents called on their supporters Wednesday to protest the same day High Court of Justice ruling that all 50 families in the West Bank outpost evacuate their homes no later than September 4.

The court’s decision appears to mark the end of Migron residents’ long legal battle to retain their homes.

It was issued in the evening, as the sun set over the small outpost in the Binyamin region of the West Bank. Men were reciting the evening prayer in the synagogue and a few small children played in the adjacent parking lot.

Four Migron residents and Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro’eh held a brief press conference in the community’s small kindergarten classroom, decorated for the start of school with the words, “A sweet beginning.”

They sat behind a folding table, set up for the event, next to a shelf of games.

“We are calling on every Israeli citizen to protest the injustice that was done here.

It does not matter if they are left- or right-wing,” said Migron resident Shuki Sat.

But residents who spoke at the press conference did not clarify what they meant by the word “protest.”

Nor would they commit to leaving of their own volition, as mandated by the court. In a document submitted to the court earlier this week, in advance of the judgement, they stated that they had no intention of acting violently.

Migron resident Itai Chemo said that no decision had been taken with respect to leaving their homes.

As of press time, Migron residents along with Ro’eh were holding a closed meeting in their synagogue to debate their next step.

The Defense Ministry told the media they were ready to help the residents relocate to a site that has been prepared for them, two kilometers away near the Psagot winery.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein issued a plea to Migron residents and their leaders to refrain from inflammatory actions and to act responsibly by respecting the rule of law. Weinstein called on the Migron families to relocate peacefully, adding that he understood the court’s decision was not an easy one for Migron residents.

At the press conference, Sat said, “This is a black day for Israeli democracy. It is a day when the government has trampled on the basic rights of its citizens and has betrayed the principles of its party, the Likud, and its land.”

“The prime minister has now joined some of his predecessors who raised a hand against the settlement enterprise.

We are certain that his voters will even the score,” Sat said.

Migron residents will continue to settle the land, and on this hilltop in the future, two settlements will exist, he said.

Behind him, a large sign hung on the wall, which said, “This will end with two settlements, an upper and a lower Migron.”

Migron resident Itai Harel added, “We will persevere, like lions.”

The High Court of Justice had ordered the outpost’s demolition in the summer of 2011 because it was built without permits on land classified by the state as belonging to private Palestinians.

Last month, Migron residents petitioned the court to allow 17 of the families to remain there, claiming that they had purchased the three plots of land on which their homes stood from the Palestinian owners.

On Wednesday, however, the court rejected their petition.

But it did agree to allow the buildings on lot 10 to remain for 90 days, to allow time to investigate the validity of the purchase claim.

The court, however, said that the families must leave because it agreed with the state’s opinion that there was no legal possibility for Israelis to live on that lot of land, without infringing on the rights of Palestinians who owned the abutting lots.

Earlier this week, the families also petitioned the court to delay the evacuation until such time as their new modular housing site was fully completed.

On Wednesday the court rejected that petition and ordered the families to leave.

It added that all the buildings in the outpost, except for those on lot 10, must be taken down no later than September 11.

According to the World Zionist Organization, the homes near the Psagot winery are ready for Migron families, but work is still being done on the public buildings and security features such as guardrails. The Binyamin Regional Council, under whose auspices Migron and the new site are located, however, has argued that the site will not be completed for another month.

According to the 2005 Talia Sasson report on West Bank outposts, Migron was built in May 2001 with NIS 4.3 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry.

In 2006, Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of the Palestinian landowners.

Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer said that the ruling was a victory for the rule of law and order, and a statement against the system of building illegal outposts in the territories.

“It transforms Migron from a symbol of defiance and anarchy into a symbol of respect for the court and the legal system,” Oppenheimer said.

“This judgement should be a bright light for Israeli society that proves that the settlers are not above the law,” he said.

“Peace Now views this judgment as an important achievement for all those who believe in a two-state solution and democratic rule,” Oppenheimer said.

Meanwhile, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herskowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) who is also a member of the Ministerial Committee on Settlements, said that Peace Now’s victory was an empty one.

Building will continue in Judea and Samaria, and specific Migron families can build permanent authorized homes near Psagot to replace their modular ones, he said.

MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) blamed the court’s verdict on Netanyahu’s failure to support his legislation to authorize West Bank outposts.

National Union head MK Ya’acov Katz attacked the Likud, saying “All those who love the Land of Israel understand now that the Likud government headed by [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu freezes settlements and supports the principle of two states,” and is responsible for erasing a Jewish community, he said.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) who came to Migron briefly, said that the court had become a contractor for Peace Now and was executing its policy.

“It seems that property rights exist for Arab and not for Jews,”
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