Avoiding an unnecessary confrontation
In the coming days, the High Court of Justice will have to issue a ruling on one of the most difficult and important issues ever been brought before the bench: the state's agreement with the residents of Migron.
In the coming days, the High Court of Justice will need to issue a definitive ruling on one of the most difficult and important issues that have ever been brought before the bench: The court must decide whether to accede to the state's request to approve the agreement it has reached with the residents of Migron.
Approving the agreement, under which the state allows the Migron residents to live in the West Bank outpost until November 2015 and they agree to move to a new outpost to be built on nearby state land by that time, entails suspending the court's previous ruling requiring the West Bank outpost to be evacuated by the end of this month and granting an extended delay in dismantling the outpost. Rejecting the agreement means the state would have to forcibly evacuate Migron, entailing a major confrontation between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Migron residents and their supporters.
There are many good reasons to reject the agreement; Peace Now's opposition to it is not unfounded or illogical. Genuine concern exists that this is a duplicitous exercise aimed at buying time, and there is reason to believe that this may indeed be the case.
All the same, no matter how problematic it would be for the High Court to accede to the state's request, there are also significant reasons to approve it. Merciless adherence to the letter of the law is not always the right path. The fact that the government was able to reach a compromise with the residents of Migron, and the fact that all 50 families living there were willing to sign it, sends a valuable and important message to Israeli society.
The message is that, after years of evacuations accompanied by violent clashes between the state and the settlers, even some of the most hard-core settlers have come to realize that devotion to the Land of Israel - itself a core, genuine value - is not the only value, and that other ones must also be taken into consideration. And they have come to realize that for all that their dream is legitimate and pleasant, reality also exists.
This approach can be seen in the comments of one of the founders of Migron, who said he knows that the house he built and in which he lives is likely to eventually be demolished, but he is agreeing to the compromise because it will allow the community to continue to exist, even if it will be elsewhere. He said the compromise also allows for the High Court's evacuation order to be implemented, while preventing confrontations pitting Jew against Jew.
The fact that the Migron residents agreed to the deal means that they recognize the value of the rule of law and the supreme importance of preventing civil war - and the significance of this should not be underestimated.
Many segments of Israeli society aren't familiar with people like the residents of Migron and don't understand their thinking. Yet it is worth making an effort to get to know and understand them. These people have a deep-seated ideological commitment to their vision of the Land of Israel. For them, agreeing to remove a Jewish community in the Land of Israel - even if the removal is really only a relocation to a site two kilometers away - is as hard as splitting the sea. In addition, they still object to the High Court's premise that Migron is built on Palestinian land, and their counterclaims are not totally unfounded.
The outpost residents were also subject to heavy pressure from the far right to reject the compromise with the state. Indeed, that agreement is a thorn in the side of the far right, which somewhat justifiably sees it as a dangerous precedent. Both the far right and the far left would like to see the court quash the deal, but the agreement would be good for the nation of Israel and the State of Israel. And if the High Court rejects the agreement, its decision will be used to strengthen the false claim by the far right that Supreme Court justices are always against the settlers.
Nonetheless, the court should not ignore concerns about whether the outpost will ultimately be evacuated. As such, it would be fitting for the court to approve the agreement while ordering the government to prove every three months - through documents, photographs and signed statements - that the new Migron is being built according to plan. The state would also need to show that the evacuation will take place in accordance with the new timetable, and that the letter and spirit of the agreement will be upheld. Such a move would retain the rule of law while avoiding an unnecessary confrontation.