State to ask for delay in removing Migron buildings

State wants 90-day delay to remove some Migron outpost buildings to allow time to adjudicate the settlers' purchase claim.

Migron outpost 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Migron outpost 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
The state is likely to ask the High Court of Justice for a 90-day delay in the removal of some buildings in the Migron outpost in order to allow time for adjudication of the settlers’ purchase claim.
But the state is likely to insist that all of the 50 families who live in the small hilltop community located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank must voluntarily evacuate their homes by the court-mandated date of August 28.
The Ministerial Settlements Committee formulated both positions for the state, when it met to prepare the state’s response to the High Court of Justice on the matter, which is due on August 19.
The High Court of Justice has ordered the removal of the homes because they were built without permits on land classified by the state as belonging to private Palestinians.
Migron residents initially claimed that they had purchased some of the lots and that other portions of the outpost could be reclassified as abandoned property. The court did not uphold those claims.
In July, Migron residents petitioned the court against the evacuation, claiming that they had repurchased a portion of the outpost on which the homes are located.
Initially, the state told the court that there was no reason to remove those homes if the court upheld the purchase claim.
But the Ministerial Settlements Committee amended that response on Tuesday, after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein found their initial stance to be legally problematic.
According to a source in the meeting, the purchase claim involves three tracts of land, which the committee has referred as sections 2, 10, 23.
Section 2, is completely surrounded by Palestinian property and can only be accessed through that property. In section 23, settlers were only able to purchase 25 percent of the property.
The committee therefore decided not to make a plea with the court for either tract of land. With respect to the third tract, section 10, however, it agreed to ask the court for a 90-day delay.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said after the meeting, “I am glad the committee is working, but as far as Migron is concerned I think the committee should have stuck to its previous decision” to support all three tracts of land, he said.
According to the source, however, in the meeting the ministers were upset by reports that Migron residents might not agree to voluntarily evacuate the homes, in spite of a signed agreement in which they pledged to do so.
According to the initial agreement, signed in March, residents would be given close to three years to relocate.
The High Court of Justice, however, insisted that the residents must evacuate in August. The state plans to relocate them to a new site of modular homes two kilometers away on a state-owned hilltop situated next to the Psagot winery.
After the court insisted on an August evacuation deadline, Migron residents have refused to publicly state their intention to evacuate.
Instead, they have continued a political and legal battle to stay in their homes. In recent weeks, they have solicited funds to buy further tracts of land.
Migron spokesman Itai Chemo said in response to the decision by the Ministerial Settlements Committee that it was clear that the land had been purchased. He added that the actions of the prosecutor’s office in pushing to destroy the outpost stemmed not from the pursuit of justice, but from a “lust for destruction.”
Separately, the committee debated the matter of two market stalls, which two Jewish families have now incorporated into their apartments.
A Hebron Jewish family had once owned the property but was forced to evacuate it in 1947.
The state is due to submit a position to the court on the matter.
Hebron Jewish community spokeswoman Orit Struck called on the Ministerial Settlements Committee to uphold the conclusion of a military appeals court that the property could be rented to the Jewish families. Edelstein said that the committee had agreed to present that position to the court.
The public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs minister added that the commmittee also supported measures to legalize the tract of land in Beit El on which five apartment buildings are under construction. Construction was frozen after the state determined that the site lacked permits and was built on land classified by the state as belonging to private Palestinians.
Edelstein said that legalization was possible because the land in question is within the boundaries of the military seizure order that created the settlement.