Migron residents protest A-G order of evacuation

Attorney-general ordered evacuation of outpost following successful Peace Now petition; residents argue land purchased legally.

Migron outpost 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Migron outpost 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
The residents of the Migron outpost held a demonstration across from the Justice Ministry on Thursday, demanding that the government force the attorney- general to support their High Court of Justice petition to allow 17 families to remain in their homes until their purchase claim is adjudicated.
Theirs was a small, quiet protest of residents only – just the “authentic people” who live in Migron and are in danger of losing their homes, said spokesman Shuki Sat.
“This is a spontaneous demonstration against the person who made this decision against us, despite the fact that this land was acquired according to the laws of a democratic state,” he said.
The settlers’ posters blamed Mike Blass, deputy attorney-general, calling for him to be brought to trial for “false testimony.”
A Ministerial Settlements Committee initially agreed that the state would tell the court that the 17 families could remain in the outpost until their purchase claim was validated.
But the attorney-general found the decision problematic and said that even if the purchase claim was upheld, it was not possible for the families to stay in their homes.
Passersby on Salah ed-Din Street in east Jerusalem, where the Justice Ministry is located, gave the protesters only a passing glance. The only voices raised were those of young children from Migron arguing over the distribution of snacks.
But their determination not to be evacuated and moved to temporary housing nearby should not be underestimated, said Aviela Deitch, one of the protesters, who came with five of her six children.
“I’m angry,” said Deitch. “We have played by the rules from Day One. I grew up in Milwaukee in a Zionist house where Israel could do no wrong. Well, this is wrong.
“We in Migron have a reputation for being compliant and nonviolent, some would say to the nth degree,” she said.
“We’re worried. For us to be thrown out of our homes and have them destroyed, it’ll be a step back for the entire country.”
Deitch said that in case of an evacuation, which would coincide with the start of the school year next week, parents in the community would have access to psychologists as well as to people who were evacuated from settlements in the Gaza Strip during the disengagement in 2005.
Similar to that momentous event seven years ago, people in Migron refer to the possibility of an “expulsion.”
The government has hastily erected what she calls a “refugee camp” nearby. But besides not wanting to leave their homes for caravillot – or large mobile homes – she said the spot is wedged up against a sharp precipice that would make it a dangerous place to live. It’s also too close to route 60, the residents argue.
“It’s not okay that they want to move us from our house,” said her son Yosef Tzvi, 13. An older son, 15, Hillel, is about to get his first call-up to the army, his mother said, but his motivation to join an elite unit has been dampened by the fact that they might be forced out.
The family moved to the outpost a year ago, she added, because it’s a community of “people living for something bigger than themselves.”
Last summer the High Court of Justice ordered the state to evacuate all 50 families who live in the outpost. It did so in response to a 2006 Peace Now petition with evidence that the homes were built on private Palestinian land.
However, this newest legal battle over the outpost, north of the Jerusalem in the area of Ramallah, involves 17 of the 50 families living there.
Residents said in a petition to the court last month that they had purchased three plots of land on the outpost, and asked for those lots to remain.
On Monday, the Attorney- General’s Office issued a response to the petition. It notes that Peace Now attorney Michael Sfard, who brought the case to the High Court on behalf of the Palestinians landowners, claims that the purchase evidence was fraudulent.
An official in the prime minister’s office said that of the three lots in question, one of the purchase claims seems to be legitimate, which would be grounds for a 90-day stay of action on the evacuation.
“The position of the government is that this claim is serious and the Supreme Court has to decide if they did buy it legally,” the official said.
“We’re going to ask for a 90- day stay of action for that particular parcel of land – but not for the others.”
MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) came to the demonstration in support of the settlers.
“This is a total miscarriage of justice on the part of the state,” he said. “If the prime minister dreams that this evacuation will pass quietly, this attitude toward destroying communities, he should dream it at night, because the reality is different.
These are law-abiding people looking for peace, who will not raise their hands against soldiers and police. But others won’t be able to stand by and do nothing. When people are denied the basic right to own property, some people will come and resist that.”
Eldad accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of being two faced about the issue. To the media, said Eldad.
Netanyahu gives the impression outposts such a Migron should be evacuated, and to the settlers who have supported his government, he gives another.
“For the settlers he set up a committee to reexamine the issues after the ulpana,” a Beit El outpost that was evacuated in June. “To the press, Netanyahu says he’s in favor of evacuating Migron.”