'Palestinians must compensate Migron settlers'

Court accepts withdrawal of civil suit by Palestinians claiming ownership, orders them to compensate settlers and state.

Migron settlers at TA Human Rights March (photo credit: Moshe Rafaeli)
Migron settlers at TA Human Rights March
(photo credit: Moshe Rafaeli)
Both settlers and Palestinians were left with a sense of victory Thursday after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled on a technicality with regard to the Migron outpost.
The court accepted a decision by Palestinians who claim ownership of the Migron land to withdraw a civil suit, which they had first filed in 2008.
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It ordered the Palestinians to pay compensation fees of NIS 7,000 to the Migron settlers and NIS 12,000 to the state toward court costs.
Migron’s attorney Amir Fischer claimed the Palestinians withdrew their claim at the moment in the process when they had to provide proof of land ownership.
Their decision to withdraw their civil suits shows that “they lied and have no proof” to back up their claims, he said.
Fischer had argued that the court should not allow the Palestinians to withdraw their suit and should have forced them to prove their claim.
“With this ruling the court allowed the plaintiffs to run away,” he said.
He noted that the court ordered compensation, and the withdrawal itself went a long way to proving the Migron residents’ point that the land belonged to them.
But attorney Shlomy Zachary who represents the Palestinians along with attorney Michael Sfard, on behalf of Yesh Din, said that the opposite was true.
The civil suit was filed when the Palestinians believed the state had no intention of moving against Migron, Zachary said.
When the High Court of Justice this summer ordered the outpost to be removed by the end of March, the Palestinians asked the court to allow their claim to be withdrawn, he said.
The fact that it came at the point in the legal process where proof of ownership was required was coincidental, he said.
Proof of ownership had to be given to the court when the civil suit was first filed, Zachary added.
Both he and Sfard pointed to a critical line in the court’s decision, which stated that: “There is no basis to the claim that the plaintiff’s lack evidence to prove their rights to the land.”
Sfard said he rejected any attempt by the settlers to spin this as a victory.
“It’s part of a [settler] campaign to lay the groundwork for the violation of the High Court of Justice ruling,” he said.
Separate from the civil suit, Migron residents have a suit pending before a district court regarding land ownership of the outpost, which is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem. It is home to 50 families.