State to court: Migron settlers can stay until new homes built

New site to be chosen within 30 days close to present outpost.

Migron 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Migron 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The leaders of the settlement movement in the West Bank will choose a new site for the illegal outpost of Migron within 30 days and build permanent housing there for the Migron settlers, the state informed the High Court of Justice on Thursday. The new housing will be located close to the present site, which is privately owned Palestinian land, and within the boundaries of the Binyamin Regional Council. "In the shortest possible amount of time after choosing the site, we will submit plans to the planning office of the Civil Administration and immediately afterwards start preparing the infrastructure," said Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. "At the same time, we will prepare building plans and get ready to build in order to complete construction as quickly as possible." The state accepted the council's demand that the Migron settlers be allowed to remain where they were until the new housing was ready for them. It added that the new site for Migron would have to be in keeping with Israel's international agreements. The state's latest brief to the court, submitted by attorney Aner Hellman, came in response to a petition filed by Peace Now and the Palestinians who own the land upon which Migron stands, which demanded that the state implement eviction orders issued against the settlers. The state agreed with the petitioners that the land was privately owned Palestinian land. At the last hearing in January, the state promised the court it would dismantle Migron at the beginning of August unless "substantial steps" were being taken at that time that would lead to a voluntary withdrawal on the part of the inhabitants. On Thursday, the state informed the court that this was now the case and that settlement leaders had agreed to move the Migron residents to a new site, which would be chosen within 30 days, after permanent housing on the site had been built for them. The petitioners will now respond to the proposal in writing and the court will then likely call for another hearing in the presence of both sides. In a vote held on Monday, the members of the council approved the proposal to move Migron. However, the Migron families have already told the council that they will not leave. A spokesman, Gideon Rosenfeld, said it was dangerous to even consider participating in a process that could lead to the evacuation of Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria. The move would weaken the overall settlement movement, he warned. Meanwhile, Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer told The Jerusalem Post that he rejected the agreement between the state and the council. "If, indeed, there ever is an evacuation, it will take many years," he explained. "Until then, the settlers will continue to live on private Palestinian land." Furthermore, he continued, the Migron settlers will be given a prize for their illegal activity in establishing an illegal outpost on private Palestinian land in the form of a new settlement. Finally, he said, there was no reason to believe that the council spoke for the Migron settlers or that it could keep the promises it had made to the state. Oppenheimer added that the one positive element in the agreement was that the council had acknowledged that Migron was, indeed, an illegal outpost.