Barak okays new West Bank settlement in return for evacuation of illegal outpost
Defense Minister plans to relocate Migron residents to new 250-house settlement in Binyamin region.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has agreed to approve the establishment of a new settlement in the Binyamin region in return for settlers' agreement to evacuate the illegal outpost of Migron. The Migron settlers will move into the new 250-house settlement after leaving the illegal one they built on private Palestinian land.
Today there are 45 families living in Migron, with only two living in permanent housing and the rest in trailers.
The first stage of construction of the new West Bank community will incorporate 50 houses until permission is received for further construction. In order to build the settlement, a detailed construction plan incorporating 1,400 housing units will have to be approved.
The new site is a kilometer away from the built-up section of the Adam settlement, located east of the separation fence. The establishment of the new community violates the conditions of the Road Map, as well as Ariel Sharon's commitments to President George W. Bush in 2003.
Eitan Broshi, Barak's adviser for settlement affairs, stated in an affidavit submitted to the High Court of Justice on Monday that an agreement has been reached with the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea and Samaria (the Yesha Council) on the establishment of a "new neighborhood within the municipal area of the Adam community."
Broshi did not provide details of the deal with the settlers, although they appear in a meeting summary describing the agreement reached at the Defense Minister's bureau on December 8, 2008. Broshi called the meeting, which was attended by the ministry's legal adviser Ahaz Ben-Ari and representatives of the Civil Administration in the West Bank. Representing the settlers at the meeting were the head of the Binyamin Regional Council, Avi Roe, and the secretary general of the Amana settlement group, Ze'ev (Zambish) Hever.
The document, of which Haaretz has obtained a copy, states that the joint steering committee for the new settlement will formulate recommendations for allocating a block of land on either the north-east or southern edge of Adam, based on considerations of separating the new settlement while still considering the availability of infrastructure and its proximity to the existing built-up neighborhoods. According to the document, it will take a year and a half to plan and prepare the land and infrastructure - if there are no objections, appeals or petitions to the High Court of Justice.
Broshi's affidavit states that constructing the houses will take another 12-18 months, meaning Migron will only be evacuated in another two to three years. Therefore, Broshi asked the High Court not to order an evacuation of the illegal outpost in order to avoid the need for using force, "all within a reasonable period of time considering the circumstances," wrote Broshi.
In January 2008 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Barak informed the court they had decided to evacuate Migron within six months - in other words before August 2008. Olmert and Barak also said that they would take steps during that period to enable a voluntary evacuation, and that the Defense Ministry reserves the right to ask for an extension.
Broshi's affidavit noted a list of 26 illegal outposts at the center of discussions between the settlers and the ministry, all of which were established after March 2001. It also states that some of the outposts have already been evacuated according to Barak's orders, while the discussions are continuing over the others. Broshi listed three tiny outposts already evacuated.
Attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharia, who petitioned the High Court on the evacuation two years ago on the behalf of Peace Now, said Tuesday that experience has taught them that anyone who commits to an evacuation in only another three years has not committed to anything; and in reality, under the guise of evacuation, Barak is expanding the settlements and outposts.