PM offers Migron residents alternative home 'nearby'

Netanyahu puts forward initiative in which new permanent homes will be built on nearby state lands following demolition of outpost.

By
January 23, 2012 00:49
3 minute read.
Demolished house in Migron outpost in W. Bank

Migron Demolition 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on Migron residents to stave off a forced demolition and accept a compromise by which their outpost would be relocated to a nearby location.

“This is a good proposal,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “It does not solve all of the problems, but it does resolve the problem of Migron.”

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In a statement put out after the meeting, his office said permanent homes for the Migron families “will be built near the current site, on state lands.”

The Prime Minister’s Office said the land where Migron now stands would be handed to the Civil Administration.

“The government calls on the residents of Migron to agree to the compromise and thus allow the government to soon request that the [High] Court [of Justice] approve the arrangement,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said the likely relocation spot was an area of state land on the same hilltop, near the Psagot winery and visitors’ center.

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This summer, the High Court of Justice ordered the state to demolish the outpost by the end of March. The outpost, located on a hilltop in the Binyamin region just outside of Jerusalem, is home to 50 families.

Many Likud politicians, including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, have called on the government to authorize the outpost, which according to the state is located on private Palestinian property.

Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin (Likud) spoke with Migron residents in the last weeks and offered them the government’s compromise.

Migron spokesman Itai Chemo said that while Begin had been nice, the conversation had not been a true debate, but was rather the presentation of this option.

He called on the prime minister or his staff to sit down with the Migron residents to discuss the matter rather than unilaterally presenting them with an option.

“Only a brave dialogue around one table will lead to the right solution,” he said.

For some time, he added, the Migron residents have offered a wide range of solutions.

Netanyahu’s offer of a compromise marks the second attempt to relocate the Migron outpost.

In 2008, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip stopped the pending demolition of Migron by reaching a compromise with the state to relocate the outpost to the nearby Geva Binyamin settlement within two years.

The Migron residents refused to accept this compromise and the state never presented the residents with finished homes in Geva Binyamin, known as Adam.

On Sunday, attorney Michael Sfard who, on behalf of Peace Now represents the Palestinians who claim ownership of Migron, attacked the government’s compromise.

“It is a recycling of the offer that was already given to move the [Migron settlers] to Adam,” Sfard said.

He noted that according to the High Court of Justice ruling on Migron this summer, the judges were clear that the Migron outpost should be taken down, irrespective of any place to relocate the families.

The court has ruled that the families cannot stay in Migron past March, he said.

According to the court, Sfard added, “the Palestinian land is not hostage to a reconciliation plan.”

“Preparing an alternative to Migron will take years,” he said. “In the Middle East whoever promises to do something in two or three years, promises nothing.”

But Edelstein said he hoped the government would reach an acceptable solution with the Migron settlers that would prevent a forced demolition.

“I hope and pray there will be compromise,” he said.

A forced demolition of Migron would be very damaging to the settlement movement and to Israeli society, he said. In addition, he said “it will be a political disaster for the Likud.”

The Knesset Land for Israel lobby called on the government to bring to a vote the legislative initiatives to legalize the outposts, including Migron.

The Knesset Public Petitions Committee plans to discuss on Monday the possibility of compensating Migron residents before outpost homes are dismantled.

Committee Chairman MK David Azoulay (Shas) plans to investigate which government authorities are meant to pay damages to the outpost residents, in hopes of minimizing any unnecessary suffering, he said Sunday.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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