A-G’s office to High Court: Migron must be evacuated

Right wing politicians: Prosecutor’s opinion contradicts government’s will, only represents Weinstein's views.

Jewish children play at Migron outpost 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Jewish children play at Migron outpost 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The Attorney-General’s Office on Monday issued its strongest statement yet in favor of evacuating the West Bank Migron outpost by August 28.
“According to the state’s position, it is not feasible at this time from a legal and technical perspective for the petitioners [outpost residents] to continue living in Migron and for the structures [their homes] to remain where they are,” the Attorney-General’s Office told the High Court of Justice on Monday.
As a result, it said, the High Court’s ruling ordering the evacuation of the outpost must be upheld.
The Attorney-General’s Office, however, did request a 90-day delay in the evacuation of some of the outpost structures, pending an investigation into the legality of a purchase claim by Migron residents.
Last summer the High Court of Justice issued a binding ruling that said the outpost must be evacuated because it was built without permits on land classified by the state as belonging to private Palestinians. Migron is located just outside Jerusalem in the Binyamin region of the West Bank and is home to 50 families.
Last month Migron residents claimed they had purchased three plots of land on the outpost – lots 2, 10 and 23.
They petitioned the court to allow the families living on those lots to remain.
The Attorney-General’s Office on Monday issued a lengthy response to the petition, in which it laid out the state’s position.
It noted that Peace Now’s attorney Michael Sfard, who initially petitioned the High Court against the outpost on behalf of the Palestinians landowners, had claimed that the purchase evidence was fraudulent.
The police are investigating the matter, the state said.
The substance of the state’s response, however, dealt with legal issues with regard to private Palestinian property and did not explore the authenticity of the purchase claim.
The Attorney-General’s Office noted that it would be difficult for Israelis to live on the three lots against which there were purchase claims, because that would harm the rights of private Palestinian property owners.
With respect to lot 2, the Attorney-General’s Office said, access involved trespassing on adjacent Palestinian property.
Only 25 percent of lot 23 was purchased, and it is not possible to use without harming the rights of the Palestinians who own the rest of the lot, the attorney general’s office said.
It added that there were also access issues in regard to lot 10, but that it was still possible to weigh leaving the buildings, not the people there, if the purchase claim was upheld.
Attached to the state’s response was a signed affidavit from Minister-without-portfolio Bennie Begin, who said the document represented the will of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
But right-wing politicians slammed the state’s response and said it only represented the will of Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
They noted that it differed from the opinion issued by the Ministerial Committee on Settlements, which stated that Migron families could remain in their homes if they lived on lots whose purchase was proven valid.
Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi), who is a member of that committee, on Monday asked the cabinet secretary to ensure that the state represent the committee’s position.
Earlier this year Netanyahu created the committee, in part to formulate state responses to the High Court of Justice.
Although the committee had rescinded its endorsement of lots 2 and 23, it had upheld the rights of those on lot 10 to remain if the purchase claim was valid.
Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), who is also a member of the committee, said he had initially told the Attorney-General’s Office that their statement was problematic and did not represent the committee’s will.
“I think there is a revolt in the Attorney-General’s Office,” Edelstein said. He added that it was anti-democratic for the Attorney-General’s Office to refuse to represent the will of elected officials.
The Attorney-General’s Office is supposed to represent the state’s position to the court, but is instead formulating its own position, he said.
It is as if it believes it is the state, added Edelstein.