France, UK condemn Migron outpost agreement

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 and the United Kingdom condemned the state’s agreement to relocate the Migron outpost and charged that it violated the Israel’s pledge to the international community to dismantle such unauthorized West Bank Jewish communities.
The foreign ministries of both countries on Friday charged that the Migron deal set a dangerous standard with respect to other outposts.
“This agreement, which claims to “legalize” an illegal fait accompli, sets an unacceptable precedent,” a French Foreign Ministry representative said.
The UK’s Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said, “We are deeply concerned that this agreement sets a dangerous precedent for other outposts that are illegal under both international and Israeli law.
“It is also directly contrary to the commitments Israel made to the international community under the Quartet road map to evacuate all outposts,” he said.
“By entrenching illegal settlements in the West Bank, as we believe this agreement does, Israel risks sending the wrong message about its commitment to the goal of a two-state solution,” he said.
France’s Foreign Ministry added, “It can only serve to further complicate the resumption of the political process, while everything possible should be done to restore trust.” The statements were issued after the state on Wednesday asked the High Court of Justice to nullify its August ruling to evacuate Migron by the end of the month. According to the court Migron was constructed without proper permits on land which the state has classified as belonging to private Palestinians.
The state on Wednesday told the court it had reached an agreement with all fifty families on the outpost to relocate their community to state land two kilometers away by November 30, 2015.
The new 70-dunam (7-hectare) site, which is now under the auspices of the Binyamin Regional Council, would become part of the adjacent Kochav Yaakov settlement.
On Thursday the court said it would hold a hearing on the matter no later than the 27th of the month.
Last week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke in the Knesset in support of the Migron deal and said he hoped the court would accept it.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to the French and British statements.
An Israeli official, however, said, “It was a workable compromise. It was designed to both implement the Supreme Court decision to remove Migron and at the same time prevent violence.” The official added that Israel hoped the international community understood the necessity of such a compromise in such a difficult situation.
Under the US-backed 2002 road map, Israel was obligated to remove all outposts built after former prime minister Ariel Sharon took office in March of 2001.
In his 2003 Aqaba speech Sharon promised that Israel would begin to remove unauthorized outposts.
According to a government report compiled by attorney Talia Sasson in 2005, Migron was built in May 2001, with 24 outposts constructed after March 2001.
Sharon and prime minister Ehud Olmert personally promised the US that these outposts would be removed.
Netanyahu reiterated that pledge during his first meeting with US President Barack Obama in May, 2009.
But since then a number of Israeli ministers have indicated that Israel no longer felt bound by that pledge, after a dispute broke out with the Obama administration regarding the significance and validity of Sharon’s understanding with the Bush administration regarding settlement growth.
Under Netanyahu, the state has told the High Court of Justice in other outpost cases that it is weighing the possibility of retroactively legalizing outposts on state land. It has, however, said that outposts on private Palestinian property would be removed.