Court says Migron must be evacuated by August 1

High Court rejects state's request to delay evacuation of West Bank outpost until 2015.

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 outpost of Migron by August 1, rejecting a bid by the state to delay such a move until November 30, 2015.
Supreme Court President Asher Dan Grunis said the evacuation order issued by the court last August was “an obligation, not an option.”
“[Court rulings are] 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 wrote.
The Migron outpost, located in the Binyamin region, 5 km. north of Jerusalem, was established more than a decade ago, with NIS 4.3 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry. It was built without the proper authorization on land classified by the state as belonging to private Palestinians.
Last August, in response to a petition by Peace Now, the High Court ordered the state to evacuate Migron by March 31.
Earlier this month, the state asked the court to set aside that ruling in favor of an agreement it had brokered with all 50 Migron families to relocate the outpost to state land 2 km. away within three and a half years.
The state argued that it wanted to reach a “peaceful agreement” with Migron residents.
However, the justices said that the state had made it clear all along that settlements cannot be built on private Palestinian land – something that Ministerwithout- Portfolio Bennie Begin himself had clarified in Thursday’s hearing before the court on the issue, they emphasized.
“As the state has made clear, nobody is authorized to permit the establishment of a settlement on private land,” the ruling said.
However, in rejecting the state’s request on Sunday, Grunis and Justices Salim Joubran and Miriam Naor said that the court’s original ruling must be upheld, although they agreed to delay the evacuation for five months, until the end of July.
The three justices said Migron residents may harbor justified resentment against the state and its authorities.
But the justices said that mitigating the plight of Migron’s residents should not continue to come at the expense of the Palestinian petitioners by failing to uphold the rule of law.
The state’s deal with Migron residents included delaying the outpost’s evacuation for years, the justices said.
The court criticized the state for filing its request to set aside the court ruling at such a short time before the court-appointed March 31 deadline for Migron’s evacuation.
Apart from its deal with the settlers, the state had not offered the court any alternative request to extend the deadline for the evacuation, the justices added.
However, the justices said, in order to allow Migron’s children to finish the school year before being evacuated, the court would permit the deadline for the evacuation to be extended to August 1.
In their ruling, the justices also noted that in last week’s court hearing on the matter, the Palestinian petitioners had expressed resentment of Begin, who brokered the relocation agreement with the Migron families on behalf of the government.
Begin and the Migron residents excluded them from their negotiations over the outpost, even though those negotiations had been over the use of their private land, the Palestinian petitioners said.
The justices also noted that during Thursday’s hearing, Begin clarified that since 1979, the government’s policy had been to only allow settlement on state land.
Begin, the justices said, had made it clear that for him, the starting point of the discussion was the court ruling and the evacuation of Migron.
However, the minister argued that Migron’s residents felt the government, which had spent millions of shekels on the outpost, had sent them to settle Migron.
“Begin said he attached great importance to carrying out the evacuation agreement, and that it proved that ultimately even people convinced of their ideology understood they had no choice but to accept the verdict,” the justices noted in Sunday’s ruling.
The justices said that while the High Court had the authority to extend the deadlines it set for its court rulings to be implemented, it only exercised this authority in exceptional cases to prevent “gross injustice.”
However, extending deadlines where there was no justification to do so may damage the principle of the rule of law, the court found.
Finally, 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 wrote.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.