Gov’t: Migron relocation offer still stands

Netanyahu: State will respect court’s verdict; unclear if Migron residents will accept accelerated timetable.

Migron Outpost 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Migron Outpost 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The government moved quickly on Sunday night to stand behind both the legal system and settlers after the High Court of Justice ordered the state to evacuate the Migron outpost in the West Bank by August 1.
“The government of Israel, like all citizens of Israel, respects the court’s decisions and acts according to Israeli law,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said.
“Sometimes even the obvious needs to be stated,” he said.
An official added, however, that the only thing that had changed with respect to Migron was the timetable.
The uproar created by the court’s decision against Jewish construction on private Palestinian property, such as occurred in Migron, was mitigated by a statement from Minister- without-Portfolio Bennie Begin in support of new settlement activity on state land.
Begin, who had negotiated a compromise deal with all 50 Migron families, said that details of the agreement to relocate the outpost from private Palestinian property to state land 2 km. away remained the same.
“The government will hold to the agreements it included in its application to the court as prescribed between it and the Migron residents,” he said. This includes granting them permission to construct permanent homes by the [Psagot] Winery, he said.
Still, angry right-wing parliamentarians attacked the court decision and called for the Knesset to hold a special session during the Passover break to legalize outposts on Palestinian land.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said he would hold such a session if he received the necessary signatures from 25 lawmakers.
Migron residents did not say if they intend to stand by their part of the bargain now that the timetable has changed.
Outpost spokesman Itai Chemo said Sunday’s High Court ruling began with the false claim that the land on which their homes sit is privately owned by Palestinians and ended with the demand that those who seek peace must be evacuated.
“We are confident that the government and its 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,” Chemo said.
Peace Now, which initially petitioned the court against the outpost in 2006, hailed Sunday’s ruling as a victory.
“Today, the Supreme Court sent a clear statement to Migron settlers and the Israeli government: All groups and people are equal in the eyes of the law,” Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer said. “Now, the citizens of Israel await and hope that the Migron settlers will keep their promise and comply with the Supreme Court’s verdict by peacefully evacuating from the illegal outpost.”
He added that he hoped the government would change its mind with regard to authorizing new Migron homes near the Psagot Winery.
Such construction is tantamount to the creation of a new settlement, he said, and added that Israel has promised the international community that it will not build new settlements or extend the boundaries of existing ones.
The state told the court that the boundary of the nearby Kochav Ya’acov settlement would be extended to include a 7-hectare (17.3-acre) site for the Migron homes.
“This is wrong both politically and financially,” Oppenheimer said. It is a costly decision that makes it more difficult to implement a two-state solution with the Palestinians, he said.
France and the United Kingdom have already condemned the move.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also criticized the creation of a new community for the Migron residents on the same hilltop, in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, just outside both Jerusalem and Ramallah.
It is immoral, she said, to move the Migron families to a location from which they might have to once again be evacuated if a final-status agreement is reached with the Palestinians.
“A leader must make a decision and not run away from it,” she said.
This government does not want to make the required decision to move the Migron residents to a place from which they will not be evacuated, Livni said.