Settler leaders agree to move Migron

Yesha Council chairman to 'Post': Families won't move until new homes have been set up for them.

Migron 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Migron 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Settlers leaders ended a six-year battle over the fate of Migron, one of the largest West Bank outposts, when they voted Monday evening to move the small unauthorized hilltop community to a legalized area nearby. Activists on the Left and the Right immediately denounced the move, which came just three days before the state was expected to respond to a Peace Now petition before the High Court of Justice demanding that Migron be evacuated. Since the violent clashes between settlers and security forces during the demolition of nine permanent homes at the Amona outpost in the winter of 2006, the state's preference has been to handle the outpost issue by making a deal with the settlers whenever possible. For more than two years, the Defense Ministry and the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip have debated details of a deal on the fate of the 101 unauthorized outposts, under which some would be moved and others legalized at their present locations. While there has been some minor movement of unauthorized hilltop modular homes, the Migron deal - which the council voted on Monday evening - marked the first time that the settlers and the Defense Ministry reached a formal agreement on a significant outpost. Migron, which is home to 45 families, is often seen as the flagship of the outpost movement. Council chairman Dani Dayan told The Jerusalem Post last week that according to the terms of the agreement, the families would not be moved until new homes had been set up for them in an agreed-upon area. Slamming the move, Peace Now called it a cynical delay tactic, playing for time to avoid an evacuation. "The settlers know that preparation of an alternative site [for the outpost] could take years," said Peace Now Executive-Secretary Yariv Oppenheimer. Former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss, who has vowed to gather right-wing activists to defend the outpost, said she is opposed to the deal and has no faith in it. Residents of the Migron settlement, which has distanced itself from Weiss's efforts, on Monday night put out a statement saying they opposed any attempt to move the outpost or to deprive them of their historical and moral rights to the land. They promised to continue expanding the outpost at its current location. The settler's rabbinical council immediately denounced the agreement as being against the Torah. But the council leadership said it was incorrect to think of the deal as an attempt to move the Migron outpost. When explaining the agreement, members speak of it as the legalization of the community, a move they say will insure its continuity. Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro'eh said he saw Monday night's vote as a huge success for the settlement movement. On a small scale, he said, he understood that it would be hard for the families living there to move. "It's painful," he added. But one needs to look at this from the larger lens of the overall settlement movement, he said. For the first time in many years the government has agreed to create a new permanent community in Judea and Samaria, Ro'eh said. In effect, he said, the government has agreed to establish a new settlement. Dayan said that one of the relocation options for the outpost could be to move it a mere 300 meters away from its current location. Many settlements, he said, had been started in one area and then moved slightly. Two additional sites under consideration are an area outside of the Adam settlement in the direction of Jerusalem's Neveh Yaakov neighborhood and the industrial area of Sha'arei Binyamin, he said. Defense Ministry sources took issue with attempts by council members to reframe the Migron deal as the creation of a new settlement. They stressed that no new settlement was being created. Under the terms of the agreement with the settlers' council, they said, the outpost would be moved to an undeveloped area within the jurisdiction of a nearby settlement that fell under the auspices of the Binyamin Regional Council. No location had been chosen as of yet, the sources said. Both the Defense Ministry and the council are due to report the details of the deal to the High Court of Justice on Thursday. After that, they have 30 days to determine a permanent location for the outpost, Defense Ministry sources said. Separately, Ro'eh said, he planed to bring the matter to a debate in the wider representative body of the Binyamin Regional Council on Wednesday.