State to Migron settlers: This is your last chance to accept compromise (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Chaim Levinson 02/28/12)
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The state is giving Migron residents their last chance to move the
West Bank outpost to a new site, Minister Benny Begin said yesterday.
Begin, who represents the government in talks with the residents,
said at a press conference that Migron will be evacuated and
dismantled by March 31 if the settlers don´t accept the latest
agreement aimed at avoiding a violent confrontation and giving the
residents another place to live.
Migron residents were meeting late last night to decide whether to
accept the draft agreement with the state, under which they would
leave the illegal outpost, which is built on land registered to
Palestinian owners, and rebuild it on nearby state land.
By order of the High Court of Justice, Migron, which is home to some
50 families, is to be evacuated and dismantled by March 31. The High
Court must approve the deal, under which the evacuation of the
current site would be postponed, before it can be implemented.
But the agreement, which was reached after 13 drafts, has yet to be
signed because residents oppose a clause calling for the demolition
of all structures on the outpost. At a meeting several Migron
residents held Sunday night with Rabbi Zvi Tau, their spiritual
mentor, Tau told them to object to any deal that would see the
The settlers want the agreement to state that the fate of the
structures will be decided by the law.
This demand apparently reflects the residents´ belief that in the
years it could take for their permanent homes to be built, new
information may emerge, or there may be new legislation that would
allow continued use of the structures.
Peace Now, one of the petitioners asking the High Court to order the
evacuation, said it would fight tooth and nail to prevent any more
"We will object in court to any request for delaying the evacuation
of the outpost," the group said in a statement. "The moment of truth
for the Israeli government is March 31, and it must honor the ruling
and evacuate the outpost by that date. Legally, the Migron issue has
been resolved." Under the draft agreement, which was approved by
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein last week, the state will ask the
High Court of Justice for permission to postpone the evacuation. The
community will be moved to the new location, which is currently zoned
for tourist facilities. The building plans will be changed to allow
residential construction. After that, Migron residents will be
allowed to build permanent homes at their own expense.
The new construction will be designated a neighborhood of Kochav
Yaakov, a large settlement a few kilometers away, so as to avoid the
diplomatic ramifications of creating a new settlement. The entire
process is meant to be completed by November 2015.
Begin´s proposal to move the outpost to Winery Hill, about two
kilometers away, was reported by Haaretz in early January. On
February 1, the settlers proposed their version of the agreement and
sent it to Begin, the state prosecution and attorney Jacob Weinroth,
who is representing the settlers.
The draft agreement states clearly that the Civil Administration
planners, who are responsible for planning in the West Bank,
anticipate difficulties in building homes there. As a result, the
prosecution circumvented the Civil Administration and went to Binat
Schwartz, the head of the Interior Ministry´s planning administration
(who actually has no authority in the West Bank ), and she determined
that housing could be built on the site.
As for the current Migron structures, the settlers are working on two
tracks. They have appealed to the Jerusalem District Court to get at
least some of the land, which they claim to have purchased,
registered in their names. At the same time, they are arguing that
the land is "abandoned land" whose owners have left.
The draft agreement calls for the removal of the mobile homes
currently on the site, after which the state will "consider
favorably" proposals to use the area for public facilities, such as
an educational institute or a horse ranch.
By law, "abandoned lands" can be appropriated for temporary use, but
cannot be used for settlement.
Meanwhile, there is pending legislation, sponsored by MK Zevulun
Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi ) that would allow outposts built on
Palestinian land to be legalized by compensating the owners with
either money or land.
A vote on the bill had been delayed at the request of Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, to allow the Migron negotiations to proceed. If
the agreement is not signed by tomorrow, the bill will be submitted
for a first reading.
Even if the agreement is signed, there will be several obstacles to
The High Court must approve the deal before any further steps can be
taken. Beyond that, Civil Administration objections to building at
the designated site could slow down the planning process, and the
topography of the area might make construction expensive and time-
consuming. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 02/28/12)
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