State to Offer Migron Residents to Move to Temporary West Bank Location

Security officials feverishly seeking way to resolve evacuation of illegal outpost following High Court's rejection of the state's compromise deal; Netanyahu: The government respects all court's decisions.

Israeli officials are ready to offer the residents of the West Bank outpost of Migron to temporarily move to a mobile home site on Sunday, just hours after the High Court of Justice rejected a compromise between Migron and the state that would have postponed the evacuation of the settlement to 2015.

The court's decision was reached unanimously by a panel of three Supreme Court Justices – Asher Grunis, Mirian Naro and Salim Joubran – who ordered the outpost demolished by August 1.

In the ruling, drafted by justice Naor, the court stated that it had the authority to postpone the date of the original order's execution, adding, however, that it saw no need to do so in this case.

Later Sunday, Haaretz learned that security officials were feverishly weighing potential courses of action following the court's decision.

In the past, the state offered Migron residents to move to a temporary site until a permanent one is established, but they denied the proposal, which led to the formation of the rejected compromise deal.

At the time, in 2008, the Defense Ministry reached an agreement with the Yesha Settlement Council, according to which Migron would be relocated to one of three potential sites: a hilltop within Adam; a hill in the Sha'ar Benyamin's industrial zone; and a hill in Kokhav Yaakov's jurisdiction.

Eventually, the regional council rejected the deal, despite the fact that it was supported by settlement rabbis as well as the Yesha chief.

Now, in their search for a solution that could provide a social solution to the outpost's residents, security officials are expected to offer them to move to a caravan site in the settlement of Geva Benymain (also known as Adam) until permanent housing is completed in a yet-to-be-determined location.

According to a source in the Civil Administration, the state could approve a building plan in Geva Binyamin within 60 days, lay down the infrastructure and move all of Migron's mobile homes to the new spot. Once the residents are resettled, the source said, the government could decide where they could build permanent homes.

Writing in the court's ruling earlier Sunday, justice Naor wrote that the Migron issue represented one of the "most difficult and extraordinary cases in regards to illegal outposts. The outpost is sprawled across extensive land, all in the possession of private and orderly Palestinian ownership."

"The consideration of a peaceful and consensual evacuation is a weighty one, but it isn't an exclusive and decisive one or one which can completely take away the considerations of damage to private possession and the rule of law," Naor added.

Concerning the compromise, Naor wrote that the purposed postponement of three and a half years "could not be accepted. It is unreasonable. Solutions that could have been accepted in 2006, when the appeal was submitted, cannot be accepted now after all of the procedures and postponements have been exhausted. All are subject to the law and the moment of truth has arrived."

"Claims according to which the residents of Migron settled with the state's permission and with its encouragement are not new. It was raised during the hearing of the appeal. However, as the state has made it clear, no one has the authority to permit the construction of a settlement on private land," Naor wrote.

"The desire to take the distress of the residents into account, one which we do not take lightly, cannot continue to come at the expense of the appellants and at the expense of the enforcement of the rule of law," Naor added.

"Migron's residents have come before us and asked that we accept the state's request for a postponement. As they clearly would have respected a decision to postpone, they must now wholeheartedly respect a decision rejecting that request," Naor wrote, adding that the "obligation to uphold rulings isn't a matter of choice. It's an essential part of the rule of law to which all are subject as part of the State of Israel's values as a Jewish democratic state."

In response to the court's decision, Migron residents issued a statement saying that they "received the difficult ruling today, on which began under false pretenses of 'private land' and which ended in the expulsion of peace-seeking people."

"We're sure that the State of Israel and its representative Minister [Benny] Begin will find the appropriate solution to this new situation, in which a government send its loyal citizens to settle and is forced to expel them using a High Court warrant," the statement added.

Speaking during the annual memorial to deceased presidents and prime ministers in Jerusalem later Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Israeli government and its citizens respect the court's decisions and operate according to state law, adding: "Sometimes, event the obvious have to be said."

In another response to the High Court's ruling, Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the left-wing NGO Peace Now, said that the High Court, "headed by [justice] Grunis, is making it clear to the Migron settlers and the government that everyone is equal before the law and that the court's decisions must be upheld."

"Israel's citizens expect Migron's residents to honor their obligation and respect any High Court decision, thus evacuating from the outpost peacefully," Oppenheimer added.

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