State asks for 29-day delay in Migron evacuation

IDF advises against carrying out forced evictions during Ramadan in the name of public order; delay request is the state's third.

Migron home demolition 2011 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Migron home demolition 2011 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The state on Sunday asked the High Court of Justice to delay by 29 days – from August 1 to August 30 – the evacuation of the Migron outpost.
It said that, based on security concerns, it did not want to evacuate the outpost during Ramadan, which began on Friday.
It added that replacement homes had not been fully set up in the site by the Psagot winery, where the state plans to relocate the 50 families who live in Migron, on a small hilltop in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
The state presented both these positions at a special hearing on the outpost held on Sunday before three High Court justices in the capital.
The court has ordered the state to evacuate Migron by August 1 because the modular homes there were built without permits on private Palestinian property.
On Sunday, the justices also listened to arguments with respect to a petition on behalf of Migron residents, which claims that a company has bought much of the land from the Palestinian owners on behalf of the settlers. During the hearing, the Attorney- General’s Office representative asked to wait until August 20 to present its position to the court, given that there was a disagreement between its office and the government with respect to this claim.
The newly created Ministerial Committee on Settlements, which now sets policy for state responses to the court, said that if the land purchase was authenticated there was no reason to evacuate the Migron homes.
In court, state attorney Osnat Mandel said that according to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, the committee’s response was legally problematic.
Given that the state was already asking for a delay, her office wants to make use of that time to hold further discussions on this issue with the political echelon, Mandel said.
Mandel’s statement drew immediate criticism from right-wing politicians.
National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz said he planned to submit a bill to the Knesset mandating the firing of attorneys- general who refused to represent the state’s position.
Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents Peace Now, which initially petitioned the court against Migron on behalf of the Palestinian landowners in 2006, urged the justices to hold fast to the August 1 deadline, which was set in March.
He said the IDF should be able to handle an evacuation during Ramadan and that it had ample time to prepare.
OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, said that until 10 days ago the IDF had assumed that Migron residents had agreed to evacuate.
Now, the army was looking at the possibility that it would have to forcibly remove them, he said.
Such an event could spark a “price-tag” incident, in which right-wing extremists could set a fire in a mosque in retribution, Alon said.
He added that such arson against a mosque during Ramadan could inflame the area and lead to a terrorist attack.
“We, therefore, prefer to wait until after Ramadan,” the general said.
Attorney Gershon Gontovenik, who represents Migron residents, said his clients were not violent and he objected to statements that described them that way.
After the hearing, Migron spokesman Itai Chemo rejected as “pathetic” attempts to paint him and other residents of his community as violent.
“The people of Migron bought property and are now waiting for a court ruling on that purchase,” he said.
In court, Sfard said that he could not believe that the possibility of violence had only come up now.
He noted that after Ramadan, came the High Holy Days. The state, he said, would then argue that the outpost could not be relocated during the Jewish holiday season.
Sfard added that the state should also have anticipated the problems that have arisen in preparing the new site for Migron, 2 km. away from the present site and near the Psagot winery.
When the state chose the site, it knew that it had logistical difficulties, and it needed to take responsibility for not meeting the court-mandated timetable, he said.
He suggested that the state place the residents in hotel rooms or find some other alternative.

Tags Outposts