The Migron muddle

The struggle over Migron is a symptom of the government’s inability to make policy decisions.

Migron residents walk by site of demolished home_311 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Migron residents walk by site of demolished home_311
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Confused about Migron? You should be after so much misinformation. Try these basic questions: Where is the alleged Arab owner of the land? Why doesn’t he show up with proper documents and demand his property? Answer: Because the person who registered this property with the Jordanian government died in or about 1965, apparently without heirs.
According to Ministers Dan Meridor and Bennie Begin, once land is registered it is considered private property. If someone else uses it without his/her permission, it’s against the law. This is true, except for one critical fact: the alleged Arab owner never bought the property. He received it as a gift from the then-king of Jordan Hussein, but never used it or paid taxes on it. That’s a problem.
According to Ottoman, British and Jordanian law – which Israel’s judicial system accepts – there are several categories of land that is ownerless and therefore considered property of the State, or the Sovereign. It can be given, but only on condition.
State Land, called Miri, could be registered, but ownership could only be transferred with the approval of the state. Rights could be transferred to heirs, but if the owner died intestate (without a will) and without heirs, or if the land was not cultivated for three years, and in some cases up to 10 years, the land automatically reverts to the state. Not only did taxes have to be paid, the land had to be used.
Claims by Arabs and NGOs like Peace Now that Jews are “stealing private Palestinian land,” therefore need to be examined carefully by proper courts. Unfortunately, Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, relying on misinformation provided by the State Prosecutor’s office and Civil Administration, decided that Migron should be destroyed.
Her decision, however, could not have been the result of ignorance, since she was fully aware that the lower court which adjudicates such claims had never examined the case, or the disputed documents.
Nor is this an isolated case of police and judicial bias.
In December 2009, police withdrew charges against Maon Farm residents who had been arrested and charged with trespassing after it was proven that the Arab who claimed the land did not in fact own it. Yet Civil Administration officials had testified in court that it was his property.
Bias in the State Prosecutor’s office is not new. The former head of its Criminal Department, Talia Sasson, wrote a devastating report against Jewish communities in Yesha in 2005 and later ran for Knesset in the left-wing Meretz party. According to insiders, the office is filled with anti-settlement advocates.
The Civil Administration, especially its current head, Gen. Nitzan Alon, an outspoken foe of settlements, serves as the arm of the Defense Ministry and is responsible for approving building plans in Judea and Samaria. Last week, according to a report by Chaim Levinson in Haaretz, the zoning committee, headed by Shlomo Moskowitz, “in an unprecedented move... rejected a government proposal to legalize the West Bank outpost of Sansana,” near Eshkolit in the southern Hebron Hills area.
That a left-wing civil servant can arbitrarily override government and Knesset decisions indicates the extent to which basic institutions have been compromised.
The struggle over Migron is a symptom of the government’s inability to make policy decisions.
Moving Migron from one hilltop to another, destroying Jewish communities and homes and evacuating Jews won’t solve fundamental question of whether Jews have the right to live in Judea and Samaria, and to whom this area rightfully belongs.
Migron touches the spinal nerve of the sovereignty of the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael.
The writer is a PhD historian, author and journalist.