Migron settlers unfazed as state delays evacuation in favor of larger outpost plan

By DAN IZENBERG
September 11, 2007 00:41
4 minute read.

 
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Aviva Winter is more concerned about this week's Rosh Hashana holiday than about Monday's news that the state is working on a plan to evacuate unauthorized outposts, including Migron, where she has lived with her husband and four small children for four years. When she thinks about the holiday errands, the food and the final details, her stomach hurts, she told The Jerusalem Post. "I still haven't gotten shoes for my daughter," Winter said. But when it came to the state's response to a Peace Now petition asking the High Court of Justice to order Migron's evacuation, "I didn't take it too seriously," she said, even though she did check the news for details on the ongoing case, in which the state has delayed its response a number of times. The state asked the High Court on Monday for yet another extension to respond to the Peace Now Migron petition, this time until the end of October, because the government is preparing a comprehensive plan for the evacuation of "the various illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria, including Migron." The petition was filed on October 30, 2006, by six Palestinians who said Migron was built on their land, and Peace Now, represented by attorney Michael Sfard. The state's representative, attorney Aner Hellman, informed the court in a written brief Monday that after becoming minister of defense in June, Ehud Barak instructed his adviser on settlements, Eitan Broshi, "to coordinate the necessary activities to convert the plan into an operational one after Barak had determined several basic principles regarding the evacuation." He did not elaborate. Hellman said Barak also instructed Broshi to conduct a preliminary dialogue with the heads of the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria, to reach, as much as possible, solutions based on mutual agreement." Broshi and settlement leaders had been conducting intensive talks ever since, Hellman said. Since the petition was first filed, the state has asked for and received several postponements on the ground it was preparing a comprehensive plan for the dismantling of the outposts in keeping with a promise given by prime minister Ariel Sharon to the US. Sharon promised to dismantle 24 outposts established after he came to power in 2001. Built in 2002, Migron is the largest of those communities. But the exact number is unclear because defense officials and Vice Premier Haim Ramon have spoken about the evacuation of 26 outposts, while Sfard has said he expects the state's final plan to deal with the 105 unauthorized outposts outlined in the 2005 report prepared by private attorney Talia Sasson. In the last few months, efforts have intensified on the part of the government and the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to reach a deal in which outposts located on state land would be legalized, while those situated on Palestinian-owned land would be moved. Migron is among those which both the Sasson report and the courts have said is located on Palestinian land. But Winter said the situation was more complicated than that. She is of the belief that Migron can be legalized in its present location, even though the courts have said otherwise. The land here had not been used for more then 20 years, Winter said. She added that it consisted of mixed Palestinian and state land. More to the point, she said the state wanted the fledgling settlement there because of its strategic location near Route 60,the main north-south highway through Judea and Samaria. It is also next to a cellphone antenna for the area, Winter said. With its playground, four stone buildings, bus stop, a paved road and the more then 45 caravans that dot the hilltop about 5 kilometers east of Ramallah, Migron looks like a newly established settlement. On a sunny afternoon last week, children rode bicycles on its roads or trekked home from school with their knapsacks. Mothers sat on a park bench and talked as they rocked baby carriages, and a man installed a washing machine in the covered awning next to his front door as his young daughter played in the yard. When the Winter family moved to Migron from Jerusalem in 2003, Aviva thought the outpost would soon be legalized and that building plans already existed. She even knows where her family's permanent home will be. "We wanted to be part of new community," she said. But the peace they felt in the hills of Samaria, where on a clear day you can see the Dead Sea, was jolted within months; by that Hanukka there was news that they would have to evacuate. Nothing happened, and on a day to day basis, she said, she doesn't worry that something will. She has planted a small vineyard behind her caravan and several fruit trees in her front yard. "Who ever comes here falls in love with the place," said Winter. A biblical well lies a short distance from the caravans, she said. "I feel like we are reviving history here." The people from Migron are not involved in the settler council's negotiations with the government, nor are they interested in relocating, she said. The council has said it will not make a deal without input from the people living in Migron. So far, Winter said, no one has spoken with them. It's also true, she said, that after 2005's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, anything is possible. "But on the emotional level I am not worried," said Winter, adding that she looked forward to a long future in Migron.

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