Migron residents agree in principle to relocate

High Court must approve deal to move outpost.

February 13, 2012 11:23
4 minute read.
Children playing in Migron

Children playing in Migron 390. (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)


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Settlers at the Migron outpost agreed in principal on Monday to relocate their community, but the details of the implementation are still under discussion, according to Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro’eh.

Migron residents and Minister- without-Portfolio Bennie Begin, who negotiated the deal on behalf of the government, are still negotiating on its language, Ro’eh said.

Once the document is signed, the state must ask the High Court of Justice to ratify the arrangement, he added.

There are only six weeks left before the state must implement an order from the court to demolish the outpost, which is home to 50 families and is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.

According to the court, the homes were built without the proper permits on land that the state has classified as belonging to private Palestinians.

Last month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered Migron residents a compromise by which they could move into authorized permanent homes that would be built on nearby state land.

He made the offer after prosettlement politicians within and without the Likud lobbied on the outpost’s behalf.

Ro’eh said the new homes would be built within twoand- a-half years on land next to the Psagot Winery, which is located on the same hilltop as Migron.

There is no authorized settlement, as opposed to the unauthorized Migron outpost, on the hill. If the deal is executed, the government would be authorizing the first new West Bank settlement in more than a decade.

Such a move would appear to violate Israel’s long-standing promise to the international community not to build new settlements.

The offer comes as the Palestinians are threatening to pursue unilateral statehood rather than resume the preliminary talks held in Jordan last month. Palestinians have long said that settlement activity is a stumbling block to reaching an agreement with Israel.

Migron residents have told the government that they would accept the compromise if two conditions are met:

First, they asked that the land on which their homes are now situated remain under Israeli civilian control. Ro’eh added that it could be used for a school or a project that would benefit the public.

Second, they want to wait for a land court to adjudicate the status of their property before relocating. Ro’eh said, however, that he believed that the relocation would take place regardless of any ruling by a land court.

At the Likud faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday, Begin clarified that no deal had yet been finalized with Migron residents.

But parliamentarians had already assumed that the matter is now settled.

MK Arye Eldad (National Union) and MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) hailed the deal as a great victory against the “anti-Zionist Left” in Israel, such as Peace Now, which had filed a petition before the High Court against the outpost.

Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said, “I congratulate everyone on reaching an agreement. It is much better than the violent clashes that would have occurred.”

Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer slammed Monday's compromise offer by Migron residents as “outrageous.”

“The government is avoiding fulfilling the Supreme Court decision. Not only will the outpost not be evacuated on time, it will not be evacuated at all. And the settlers will gain another settlement in the heart of the West Bank,” he said.

Meretz head MK Zehava Gal-On called the deal “rotten” and said it turns the rule of law into a joke.

“Just as you don’t conduct negotiations with a bank robber to return some of the money he stole, you don’t need to conduct negotiations with law-breaking settlers,” Gal-On said.

This is not the first agreement reached on Migron.

In 2008, the state and the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip agreed to relocate Migron to the nearby settlement of Geva Binyamin, also known as Adam.

Migron residents never accepted the compromise, but their participation in the matter was rendered irrelevant when state bureaucracy delayed the construction of new homes for them in Geva Binyamin.

Migron was seen as a symbol of the settlers’ struggle to transform the outposts from unauthorized communities to legal West Bank settlements.

A compromise on Migron is likely to have an impact on the fate of three other outposts constructed on private Palestinian property, which the state has promised the High Court it will demolish this year: Ulpana, Givat Assaf and Amona.

Separately, the prime minister has created a three-member panel, nicknamed the “outpost committee,” to examine land issues in Judea and Samaria.

On Monday, he and the Justice Ministry approved the three committee members: former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker and former Tel Aviv District Court deputy president Tchia Shapira.

The committee is due to report to the Prime Minister’s Office within three months. Its exact mandate has still not been made public.

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