Court gives state 90 days to resolve Migron controversy

State: Settlement leaders agreed to choose new site inside W. Bank for roughly 50 Migron families within 30 days.

Migron 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Migron 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The High Court of Justice has given the state three more months to work out a mutually acceptable arrangement with settlement leaders to remove the residents of the illegal Migron outpost, according to a decision revealed Tuesday. The decision came in response to a brief by the state on August 13 in which it informed the court that settlement leaders had agreed to choose a new site inside the West Bank for the roughly 50 Migron families within 30 days. Palestinians who say they own the land upon which Migron is situated and Peace Now petitioned the court in October 2006, demanding that the state dismantle the outpost, which was built without government authorization. The state admitted immediately that the mobile homes and other structures belonging to the Migron settlers were built on private Palestinian land and must be removed. However, it continually asked the court to give it more time to remove the outpost. In January, the state announced that it would remove Migron by the beginning of August unless talks with the settlers at that time were leading to an agreement to evacuate Migron voluntarily. On August 13, the state informed the court that the leaders of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip had agreed the residents of Migron would be relocated elsewhere in the West Bank. One of the proposed sites is only a few hundred meters away from the current one. The settlers promised the state to choose the site for the new Migron within 30 days. According to the agreement between the settlers and the state, after the site is chosen, the planning process will begin, and after the plans are approved, the housing will be built. Until the new homes are ready, the Migron families will be allowed to stay where they are, near Ofra. Although the state did not mention this in its response, the entire procedure could take five years or more. Peace Now director-general Yariv Oppenheimer said he strongly opposed the arrangement because of the length of time it would take for Migron to be dismantled. Meanwhile, the Council of Communities has also encountered strong opposition from elements in the settlement movement such as the self-styled Committee of Rabbis in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the "hilltop youth." They oppose the uprooting of any settlement or outpost in the West Bank for any reason, in part out of fear that it might set a precedent for further evacuations. In her decision, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch did not express an opinion about the proposed arrangement between the state and the settlement leaders. All she wrote was that a hearing on the petition would be held no later than mid-November and that the two sides would submit updated briefs before it took place.