Knesset Speaker: Removing West Bank Outposts Doesn't Make Sense

Speaking at the Migron outpost, Reuvan Rivlin says Israel must find a solution to the controversy over disputed Palestinians lands that won’t target innocent settlers.

The dismantling of West Bank outposts represents an attempt to undo a wrong by committing another, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday, adding that Israel must find a solution to the issue that sidesteps the removal of Jewish settlements.

Rivlin’s comments were made during his visit to the Migron outpost in the central West Bank, which a High Court of Justice ruling states must be demolished by March 2012.

migron - Moti Milrod - October 12 2011
Illegal homes being demolished at the Migron outpost in September.Moti Milrod

Speaking in Migron, the Likud stalwart said that the outpost’s residents “did not come as thieves nor in an attempt to take another’s land from him,” adding that the settlers “came here with good intentions and with the support and blessing of the State of Israel.”

“There’s a problem with private lands that has to do with some of [Migron’s] structures, and a problem with property belonging to xxx. We obviously have to protect the property rights of every resident of this land,” Rivlin added, saying that, however, Israel must “consider its actions and to undo one wrong by creating another.”

The Knesset speaker said that “we have no issue against the High Court’s ruling. The Government has to take responsibility for this situation and find the legal way to regulate the land’s status, whether through legislation or through a cabinet decision.”

“This pace is of ethical and strategic importance to Israel,” Rivlin said, adding that both the “right and security concerns force us to find a solution for the problem. We can reimburse the land’s owners, if they are located and their ownership proven, even if that means paying more than the land is worth, these things have happened before.”

Rivlin also said that he didn’t see any reason to relocate the settlement, “unless it is proven that a wrong has been committed or someone’s land was unlawfully taken. Right now, that isn’t the case.”

“It’s important for the government to ensure a mistake wasn’t made before an ever worse one is committed. The relocation of homes in order to avoid making principled decisions isn’t the way,” he added, saying that it was time that Israel took the steps needed to settle the issue of disputed lands that wouldn’t be “at the expense of those who settled here with a pure heart.”

Referring to international criticism that Israel would face if it chose to legalize Migron, Rilvin said that “Israel’s international problem isn’t Migron, it’s Jerusalem and its neighborhoods: Gilo, Har Homa, Givat Hamatos, and others.”

“Israel’s international problem is in regards to the people of Israel’s right for its land. I think that even if we relocate Migron from here, the new settlement will also be perceived as illegal,” the Knesset speaker added.