Court says Migron must be evacuated by August 1

High Court rejects state's request to delay evacuation of West Bank outpost until 2015; Peace Now hails decision as victory, right-wing parliamentarians plan to push legislation that would nullify ruling.

Migron outpost aerial_311 (photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Migron outpost aerial_311
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
The High Court of Justice on Sunday ordered the IDF to evacuate the West Bank Migron outpost by August 1, rejecting a bid by the state to delay such a move until November 30, 2015.
In August last year, the High Court ordered the state to evacuate Migron, which is built on private Palestinian land, by the end of March. The justices said there was "no justification for preserving the illegal situation and continued violation of Palestinian property rights."
However, earlier this month the state asked the court to set aside its ruling in favor of an agreement it had brokered with Migron residents with the help of Minister without portfolio Bennie Begin. According to the agreement, Migron would be permanently relocated by 2015 to a site two kilometers away from its current location.
In Sunday's ruling against the state's request, Supreme Court President Asher Dan Grunis said that the court ruling is an obligation, not a choice,
"This is a necessary component of the rule of law to which all are subject, as part of Israel's values as a Jewish and democratic state," Grunis added.
Migron residents may harbor justified resentment against the state and its authorities, Grunis said.
However, the Supreme Court president said that the state had made it clear all along that settlements cannot be built on private Palestinian land - something that Begin himself had clarified in Thursday's hearing on the state's request, the justices added.
"As the state has made clear, no body is authorized to permit the establishment of a settlement on private land," they said.
In Sunday's court ruling, the justices cited former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch's words at the end of the court's August 2011 ruling.
“We can only wish that the residents of the outpost will come to their senses and agree to accept their duty not to appear as lawbreakers, and that they will settle any other site that the state deems fit to allow them,” Beinisch had written.
Migron spokesman Itai Chemo said the ruling begins with the false claim that the land on which their homes sit is privately owned by Palestinians and ends with the demand that those who seek peace must be evacuated.
"We are confident that the government's representative Minister Begin will find a suitable solution to the situation in which the state sends its loyal citizens to settle [the land] and the court forces their eviction," he said.
Right-wing parliamentarians immediately attacked the decision, while Peace Now, which had originally petitioned the court against the outpost in 2006, hailed it as a victory.
“The Supreme Court has proved that everyone is equal in front of the law and everyone should obey the court,” said Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer.
“We expect the people of Migron to respect the decision and to evacuate the outpost in a peaceful manner,” said Oppenheimer.
Civil rights group Yesh Din also welcomed the court's decision. "We hope the government will learn its lesson and not evade its duty to protect the rights of Palestinian landowners, who have not been able to access their land for over a decade," said Yesh Din director Haim Erlich.
However, civil rights group the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel slammed the court.
"The High Court justices could have made a decision to avoid conflict in Israeli society," said Forum director attorney Nachi Eyal. "Clearly the court thinks human rights are only for Palestinians, not for Jews."
"What do you expect from a panel containing a justice who won't sing Hatikva?" Eyal added, in a dig at Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, who declined to sing the national anthem at Supreme Court President (emeritus) Dorit Beinisch's retirement ceremony.
Eyal called on the Knesset to strengthen legislation to resolve land disputes in the West Bank in different ways.
Right-wing parliamentarians said they planned to turn to the Knesset and urge it to legislate a solution that would nullify the court decision.
Both MK Danny Danon (Likud) and MK Uri Ariel (National Union) called on lawmakers to approve legislation which would legalize all the outposts, including Migron.
Danon said he planned to ask the Knesset to hold a special session on the matter during the Pesach break.
"There is no reason why Jews should be evacuated from their homes under a Likud government," he said.
"We must make use of the responsibility given to us by the people to lead the nation and the settlements in Judea and Samaria according to the values of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and [former prime minister] Menachem Begin," Danon added.
MK Uri Orbach (HaBayit HaYehudi) said the court's judgment clarified the irrelevance of setting a date for new elections.
"There is no need to advance the elections. We should eliminate them. Any which way it is clear that the judges believe they run the country," he said.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said he would hold a special plenum session during the Pessah break to debate legalizing outposts, if presented with the required 25 signatures.
“I am sorry that the negotiations (for a relocation agreement) lasted so long,” he said.
Rivlin added that he believed that it was still possible to execute the agreement reached between the settlers and the government to relocate the outpost.
He called on the government to find temporary housing for the 50 Migron families, until such time as new homes were built for them.