Silvan Shalom: Migron outpost is forever

Residents reject compromise proposals on evacuation order.

Migron residents walk by site of demolished home_311 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Migron residents walk by site of demolished home_311
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The government does not want to demolish the Migron outpost, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on Tuesday. He said he hopes the West Bank hilltop community will remain in its present location forever.
“From my perspective Migron is eternal. It is here and it exists to remain here,” Shalom said during a solidarity visit to the outpost.
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He spoke with reporters as he stood near the spot where the IDF demolished a small one-story home in September.
The rubble has been cleared, but the floor remains.
A sign next to it read, “The Gutman family home will be rebuilt and with God’s help, the government will authorize the outpost.”
The High Court of Justice has ordered the state to raze the entire outpost by the end of March, in response to a petition by Peace Now.
Separately, the IDF demolished three outpost homes in Migron in September, as the result of a petition by Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights.
According to the High Court, Migron was constructed illegally on property that belongs to Palestinians.
Located in the Binyamin region just outside Jerusalem, it is home to 50 families.
“This isn’t a simple situation. The clock is ticking,” Shalom said. “But we can’t have a situation where we harm people who have done nothing.”
The outpost’s residents “are the salt of the earth” and “the best that we have,” he said. “They want to be a real part of the Zionist enterprise in Israel.”
The people who built Migron believed they were doing so with the support of the state, Shalom said.
He added that he agreed with settlers’ claim that the issue of land ownership had not been properly adjudicated.
“We have to find a worthy solution,” he said.
The government was not looking to recreate the violent demolition that occurred in the winter of 2006 when the nine permanent homes in the Amona outpost were destroyed, he said.
Shalom arrived at the outpost two days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered Migron residents the option to relocate in March to another part of the hilltop, close to the Psagot winery and visitor center, that is situated on state land.
Migron residents, however, have rejected all compromise offers and have said they want to sit down and discuss the issue with Netanyahu and his staff.
Shalom met with Migron residents on Tuesday behind closed doors, in one of the outpost homes.
Other participants in the meeting – former Binyamin Regional Council head Pinhas Wallerstein and MK Danny Danon (Likud) – spoke of a compromise offer that would give residents two years to make their case for ownership of the land.
Under that compromise, Migron residents would relocate only if they fail to prove ownership, Danon said.
At that point, the caravan homes would be moved, but the few permanent structures in the outpost would remain where they are, he said.
The land where Migron is now located would be under the jurisdiction of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria and could be used for farming, Danon said.
Migron spokesman Itai Chemo said that to date, the Migron residents had not accepted this proposal.
But Danon said he was hopeful that they would agree to it. Pressure must now be put on the Prime Minister’s Office to accept this new solution, he added.
After the meeting, Danon and National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz smiled and shook hands, as if they had won a victory.
Katz said that in the future the small outpost would be replaced by a large city.
He said Peace Now and Yesh Din had failed in their attempts to attack Jewish continuity in Judea and Samaria.
“I have a message for Peace Now,” Katz said. “Continue to fight and file petitions, because every place in which you do this, we will only grow larger.”
Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer said any compromise went against the will of the High Court.
“I think it is a shameful situation that a senior minister came to Migron and ignored all that has been said about the legal problems with the place,” Oppenheimer said.
Such a deal, he said, would be “a victory for the people who broke the law and a loss for Israel.”
He added that if the government were to legalize a community on the Migron hilltop, it would have created the first new settlement in a decade.
Separate from attempts to broker a compromise, right wing politicians have turned numerous times to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation with requests to provide government backing for Knesset bills that would legalize the outposts.
At the prime minister’s request, the committee has rejected or delayed debate on all the bills.
The National Union has said that it will turn to the Knesset plenum with a request that it vote on such legislation as a private member’s bill.
Coalition faction heads have yet to decide if they will insist that their party members vote the government’s position, of if they will be given the freedom to vote as they wish. The faction heads plan to meet on Wednesday to discuss the matter.
At the Migron outpost on Tuesday, Shalom said he supported the legislation but that he doubted it could pass without government support.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.