Peace Now posts a 'Migron file' on the internet

NGO charges that PM's offer to authorize homes for Migron settlers in empty portion of same hilltop would mark first new settlement in decade.

peace now settlement rally 311 (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
peace now settlement rally 311
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
A new settlement is what you get when you “invade someone else’s land” and “refuse to evacuate,” stated Peace Now in a poster it published this week on the Internet against the Migron outpost.
Settlers hit the Web this week as well with a YouTube video in support of legalizing Migron, which is slated for demolition in March.
Peace Now struck back in virtual reality with the poster, a YouTube video and a file of information on the outpost.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered to authorize homes for Migron settlers on state land in an empty portion of the same hilltop on which their community is now situated.
Peace Now has charged that such authorization would mark the first time in more than a decade that Israel has created a new settlement.
Migron settlers have to date rejected the compromise and continued with their campaign to legalize the outpost in its present location.
The High Court of Justice has ordered Migron’s demolition because it was built without the proper authorization and on land that the state has classified as belonging to private Palestinians.
Migron residents have argued that the land’s status has never properly been adjudicated. They contend that it can be reclassified as state land under the laws of abandoned property and that some of the lots were purchased from Palestinians.
On Wednesday, Peace Now published a document on the Web called “The Migron File,” in which it took issue with the settlers’ claims.
Before 1967, the outpost land was registered with the Jordanians under the name of Palestinian owners, according to Peace Now. The group’s Hagit Ofran said it was still listed in their name under the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.
As part of “The Migron File,” Peace Now posted a photograph of the Palestinian land ownership papers for Migron lots on the Internet, with a stamp from the Civil Administration.
It also included quotes from high-level IDF officials.
According to Peace Now, Brig.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukon, who formerly headed the Civil Administration said, “The land on which the buildings of the outpost were built is registered Palestinian land within the boundaries of the villages of Burka and Deir Dibwan.”
It also quoted Eitan Broshi, the Defense Ministry’s settlement adviser in 2009, as saying, “The land in the outpost is registered land owned by Palestinian residents.”
In “The Migron File,” Peace Now explained that the outpost was first constructed in 2001, when settlers received a permit to place a cellular antenna on the hilltop.
It showed an aerial photograph from 2000, in which the hilltop appears to be empty. By 2003, according to another aerial photo, many of the outpost structures were already there.
In 2006, Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice to demolish the outpost. At the time, according to the group, the state said that because the outpost was built on private land, “there is no legal possibility to accept its existence.”
“No one, as senior as they might be, had the authority to order the construction of the outpost,” the state said in 2006.
Demolition of the outpost was staved off in 2008, when the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip made an agreement with the government to relocate the home to the nearby settlement of Geva Binyamin. The state never built the new homes, and Migron residents never accepted the offer.
In August 2011, after Peace Now turned once again to the court, it ruled that the outpost must be demolished by March of this year.
But attorney Amir Fisher, who represents the Migron settlers, said that the Palestinians now claiming ownership of the land were not the same Palestinians in whose name the land had been registered.
“There is no argument that the land was registered to Palestinians,” he said, explaining that the question at hand was who now had the right to the land – the residents of Migron, or the Palestinians who claimed to have inherited it from the initial owners? He also took issue with Peace Now’s attack on the settlers as people who decided on their own to build Migron, or even worse, as people who “stole” the land.
According to Fisher, Peace Now has ignored the fact that it was the state, with the help of the Construction and Housing Ministry, and not the settlers, who built Migron.
He pointed to the 2005 report by attorney Talia Sasson on the outposts, which stated that the ministry had spent NIS 4.325 million on Migron.
The outpost, which is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem, is now home to 50 families.