Settler leader: Migron is here forever

Dani Dayan holding talks with gov't on alternative locations for the unauthorized outpost, whose removal was ordered by the High Court of Justice.

Migron 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Migron 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Settler leader Dani Dayan pledged on Thursday that the Migron outpost northwest of Jerusalem will become a settlement and never budge, even though over the past year he has been negotiating with the government on its removal. Dayan stood at Migron amid the thousands who had arrived to celebrate Independence Day there, and told The Jerusalem Post there was no proposal on the table to relocate Migron to a nearby settlement. But MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) disputed the statement made by Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Dayan has been holding talks with the government on alternative locations for the unauthorized outpost, whose removal had been ordered by the High Court of Justice, Schneller said. He lives in Ma'aleh Michmash, in Gush Etzion, and is a liaison between the settlers and the government. "I do not know why [Dayan] said what he did," Schneller told the Post. In April the Defense Ministry's legal adviser notified the state that progress had been made on voluntarily moving Migron. Implementation of the evacuation order against Migron had been delayed in hopes that such an agreement would be reached with its residents, Schneller said. But eventually, he added, if no solution was found the order would have to be carried out. Migron is located in the Binyamin Regional Council, close to the Adam settlement, and is one of the largest of the 105 unauthorized West Bank outposts. Located on a hilltop overlooking Highway 60, it has some 45 families and about 60 caravans. With its paved road, four stone structures, synagogue and playground, it looks more like a fledgling settlement than an outpost. According to the 2005 Sasson Report on West Bank outposts, which was formally accepted by the cabinet, Migron is one of 11 outposts built entirely or partially on private Palestinian land. In the past, Dayan has said that alternative locations would have to be found for outposts built on private Palestinian land that can not be legalized. But on Thursday, he told the Post that it was not clear that Migron fit that category. Migron residents have long denied that their outpost is illegal. On Thursday, as part of their Independence Day exhibits, they placed documents on a caravan wall to prove their point, including a Defense Ministry letter from February 2003 saying that Migron should be treated as if it were a settlement. The settlers' council made a public declaration that it, too, believed in Migron's future by holding its official Independence Day ceremony there. "Migron will become a permanent settlement and will remain here forever," Dayan thundered. He said he now saw it as one of the "flagships" of the settlement movement. Not everyone believed him. Right-wing activists led by former Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss handed out leaflets accusing the council of "destroying" and "sacrificing." Specifically, she and others accused the council of duplicity for promising to defend Migron even as it attempted to persuade its members to move to the Adam settlement. Activists also tried to drown out Dayan when he stood up to speak of how proud he was that the settlement movement was celebrating 40 years at the same time that the state was marking its 60th birthday. Migron's rabbi, Itai Halevi, stood up in defense of Dayan. He said that Dayan was there at the wish of the Migron residents and that all those on the stage, including Dayan, supported the community's continued presence at the site. A Migron spokesman, Gideon Rosenfeld, later told the Post the activists "were confused" and "didn't think about what they were doing." He said it was a sign of support that the council members as well as thousands of activists hiked or took buses to the outpost on Thursday. The council, he said, had been told that the Migron residents were only willing to engage in talks about remaining at the current location. "They came, because they understand that," Rosenfeld said. Sitting in her caravan while her family held a barbecue outside, Migron resident Yehudit Genun said the event, which included musical performances and arts and crafts, felt like receiving "a big hug." "We wanted people to know who we are and what threat we are under. But we wanted to do it in a friendly way that was not political," Genun said. She and her husband moved to Migron last year after their wedding, even though they had been told by residents that the government was attempting to evacuate it. "We said, 'We will take our chances,'" she said. They fell in love with the place during their first visit, because they could already tell from the people they met that the community, with its open-minded young families, was a special one, Genun said. Migron is situated at a strategic point near Jerusalem and Highway 60, so she believes it is there to stay. At the end of Thursday's celebration, children from Migron released blue and white balloons that drifted above the caravans and disappeared into the sky.