France condemns Migron outpost deal

French Foreign Ministry calls deal to relocate West Bank outpost "negative signal" that sets "unacceptable precedent."

Migron outpost aerial_311 (photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Migron outpost aerial_311
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
France on Friday condemned a relocation agreement between the government and settlers in the West Bank outpost of Migron, saying the deal "sets an unacceptable precedent."
"This agreement, which claims to 'legalize' an illegal fait accompli, sets an unacceptable precedent," said a French Foreign Ministry statement, adding that the move complicates the resumption of the political process.
On Sunday, the fifty Migron families signed the deal to move their outpost, which the high court had ordered dismantled, two kilometers from its current location. As part of the agreement, the government will authorize nearby state land for construction of permanent homes,
"While Israel had pledged, under the road map, to dismantle all outposts, this decision sends a negative signal that runs contrary to the willingness expressed by Israel to reach a two-State solution," the statement said.
The government on Wednesday asked the High Court of Justice to cancel its order to evacuate Migron by the end of the month, asking the court for an extension to allow all 50 Migron families time to build permanent homes on 70 dunams (7 hectares) of state land 2 kilometers away by November 30, 2015.
Right-wing politicians and settler leaders hailed the request as a worthy compromise that respected the rule of law.
Left-wing activists and politicians said it subverted the rule of law and broke Israel’s pledge to the international community not to expand the boundaries of existing settlements.
The proposed new Migron site is under the auspices of the Binyamin Regional Council but it does not belong to any settlement. Fifty of its 70 dunams are now zoned for commercial use.
The only structure is a visitor center for the Psagot Winery that includes a parking lot.
Those 50 dunams plus another 20 will now be rezoned for residential use.
As part of the relocation plan, the state intends to expand the boundaries of the nearby Kochav Ya’acov settlement to include the 70 dunams.
Kochav Ya’acov is located 300 meters away from the commercial area as the crow flies. The settlement and the new Migron site are separated by a 1.5-kilometer-long road.
The state noted that experts had said the new site’s topography could make construction difficult. But it added that this hardship could be overcome.
Once the Migron families have moved, the former site of their outpost will be under the auspices of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.
The state turned to the court after months of negotiations with the Migron settlers, led by Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin, to prevent a forced evacuation of the outpost.
In August, the High Court issued a binding order to evacuate the outpost, saying it was built without the proper permits on private Palestinian property.
The court is expected to hold a hearing on the matter before it issues a decision.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.