Migron settlers sign relocation agreement

W. Bank outpost to be moved 2 kms away from present location as part of deal which residents say "will prevent civil war."

Migron resident Shuki Sat signs agreement to relocate  390 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Migron resident Shuki Sat signs agreement to relocate 390
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
All fifty Migron families on Sunday night signed a longanticipated deal to move their small West Bank outpost two kilometers away from its present location.
The state will ask the High Court of Justice to nullify its order to demolish the outpost by the end of March.
Cameramen crowded around a small folding table, as Shuki Sat, a 12-year Migron veteran and father of six, sat down and picked up a pen.
He wrote his name and details on a single sheet of white paper.
“My heart is heavy,” Sat said.
“An injustice has been done.”
In a statement to the media released earlier in the day, Migron settlers said they had placed their faith in the government and its representative who had negotiated the deal, Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin (Likud).
“This agreement will prevent a civil war, and that is the reason the government has chosen to present it to the High Court,” the statement said.
According to the court, Migron was constructed without proper permits on land that the state has classified as belonging to private Palestinians.
The outpost is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem.
Under the terms of the agreement, the government will authorize nearby state land for construction of permanent homes. Migron settlers have until November 30, 2015, to build new homes in an area of their hilltop near the Psagot Winery.
The land on which Migron is now located will then be handed over to the Civil Administration, which has agreed to consider using the site for a public civic project.
It remains unclear if the state will remove the caravans and the few permanent structures from the site once the settlers leave the area in November 2015.
Neither Migron residents nor the state showed the text of the agreement to the media.
Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer called on the court to reject the agreement.
“It makes a fool of the court.
We still have some hope that the Supreme Court will keep its dignity and will reject it,” he said.
He charged that in authorizing new homes on the same hilltop, the state had created its first new West Bank settlement in over a decade – a move that ran counter to Israeli pledges to the international community not to approve new settlements.
Oppenheimer said he believed the agreement lacked a clear statement saying that the Migron homes would be evacuated.
What will happen instead is that there will be a new settlement and an outpost on the same hilltop, Oppenheimer warned.
Migron founder Itai Harrel said that residents of his community had been very careful about the language of the deal they signed.
“We agreed to relocate,” he said. But he added that the residents hold fast to their belief that the outpost land did not belong to Palestinians and could be reclassified as state land.
“This is a crazy situation, akin to that of the emperor with no clothes,” he said.
Migron residents have long argued that the fate of their outpost should be determined only after a local land court has adjudicated the land status.
They point to the fact that, according to a government report compiled by attorney Talia Sasson in 2005, Migron was built in May 2001 with NIS 4.3 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry.
“The state sent us here,” said Migron resident Efrat Sheetrit, a mother of four, whose oldest son Ori, now nine, was only one month old when the family arrived.
Although she will eventually be able to exchange her caravan home for a permanent structure, she said the idea of relocating the outpost is very sad.
“There is no cake. We did not open champagne bottles,” she said.
Harrel paused when asked about the fate of his home, one of the few permanent structures on the outpost.
“I hope that it won’t happen, but I understand that it is very likely it could be destroyed,” he said.