The High Court of Justice is expected to issue a ruling, possibly within days,
on whether the West Bank outpost of Migron should be forcibly evacuated or
allowed to voluntarily relocate to the nearby settlement of Geva
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“It is of great importance that [Migron] not be evacuated by
force,” state attorney Osnat Mandel told the court during a Tuesday hearing on
The state is in the final stages of what has been a lengthy
process of relocation, Mandel said. She added that the state hoped that by March
the residents of Migron would agree to the Geva Binyamin deal.
to us that given the history of the case, this is the most correct way to do
things,” she said, and added that the state preferred not to forcibly evacuate
High Court President Dorit Beinisch asked Mandel whether Migron
residents “had been informed that they had to leave” and what the state would do
if the residents did not agree to the move.
“We would forcibly evacuate
them,” Mandel replied, adding that “the moment has arrived for residents of
Migron to show whether they are cooperating [with the relocation] or
But she did not commit to a final date for that
“Regarding the evacuation of Migron, I don’t have permission
to name a date,” she said.
Justice Salim Joubran criticized the state’s
response and its failure to secure to date an agreement with the Migron
residents that they would leave the outpost.
“So you are not saying that
there is any cooperation [with the residents of Migron]. In actual fact the
state is talking to itself, it does not have a partner.
That is the
problem,” Joubran said.
Attorney Michael Sfard of Peace Now, whose
organization first filed a petition against the outpost in 2006, slammed the
state for what he said were repeated broken promises over evacuating the
Sfard also criticized as “unethical” the state’s plan to
evacuate the residents of Migron to the nearby community of Geva Binyamin, also
known as Adam, where they will be given homes.
“Why am I not getting a
private home? Why are people on Rothschild Boulevard [in the tent-city housing
protest] not getting private homes?” Sfard told the court.
state decided on the  disengagement [from Gaza], there people were living
legally. So did the state come up with housing solutions before it evacuated
So now we have to wait for the residents of Migron. Who are
land grabbers?” The outpost, located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank 5
km. north of Jerusalem, was first constructed over a decade ago, with NIS 4.3
million from the Ministry of Construction and Housing, but without the proper
In her 2005 report, Talia Sasson said the outpost was
constructed on private Palestinian property, a designation which since has been
accepted by the state.
Peace Now first petitioned the High Court to
evacuate Migron in 2006, on behalf of Palestinians with claims to the
The state has agreed in principle to evacuate the outpost, but
has yet to make good on that pledge.
The matter has returned to court a
number of times with the state requesting more time to come up with a plan to
evacuate the outpost and rehouse its residents.
In 2008, the Council of
Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip struck a deal with the
government, in which it promised that Migron would be voluntarily removed to the
nearby settlement of Geva Binyamin within two years.
Although the Migron
residents themselves have yet to agree to relocate, the state has moved ahead
with the Geva Binyamin plan.
Separately, Sfard, on behalf of Yesh Din,
filed a petition before the court requesting that the state demolish three homes
recently built at the Migron outpost.
Although the petition was withdrawn
when it was discovered that it listed the wrong property, the state still
promised the court it would removed the three homes as of Sunday, July 24. Yesh
Din plans to refile its petition against the three homes.
On Monday, July
25, the state told the court that it needed more time to evacuate the three
homes because of the impact the demolitions could have on regional security. It
promised the court that it would do so no latter than September.
matter of the three homes came up on Tuesday, during the larger issue regarding
The judges asked Mandel why the state had not kept to a
commitment to demolish three houses in the outpost within a 45-day time
Mandel replied that the state had not demolished the houses
because, during a tour of the area in July, Defense Minister Ehud Barak had
deemed the timing for the demolitions to be “unsuitable.”
the court that in the defense minister’s opinion, we intend to carry out the
demolitions in the coming weeks. No later than September,” Mandel
Migron residents who dispute the Palestinian claim of ownership
and who believe the outpost can be legalized, have spent the last weeks heavily
lobbying the government to save the outpost.
Migron spokesman Itai Chamo
said the state’s statements to the court regarding the homes were discouraging,
even though he remained hopeful that it would agree to delay the demolition of
the outpost as a whole.
Sfard said the Defense Ministry’s refusal to
demolish the three homes showed the court that the state was not willing to take
even the smallest step to remove the outpost.
While the state is asking
the court for patience, more homes are being illegally built in Migron, he said.