Political pressure forced Israeli planning official to compromise on Migron deal, documents show
Documents show that planning director initially objected to the idea of relocating Migron, but approved the plan about a week later.
The Interior Ministry's planning director was initially opposed to a compromise over the West Bank outpost of Migron, but changed her mind due to government pressure, documents presented to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday show.
The documents show that planning director Binat Schwartz, whose job includes advising the government on planning issues, initially objected to the idea of relocating Migron to a site a few kilometers away, but approved the plan about a week later.
Though the Interior Ministry's planning administration is not authorized to deal with planning and construction in the territories, Schwartz was apparently brought in to get around the head of planning at the Civil Administration, Shlomo Moskowitz, who opposes the compromise for planning reasons.
The court had ordered Migron demolished because it was built on privately-owned Palestinian land. The relocation is meant to solve this problem without demolishing the outpost entirely.
On Thursday, the court is to hear the state's request to postpone the demolition for three and a half years to allow the settlers to rebuild their homes on Hayekev Hill, which will then become part of the settlement of Kochav Yaakov. The state gave the court Schwartz's opinion approving the compromise to support its stand.
But even if the court is willing to entertain the compromise, the state must still convince the justices that it can be implemented.
On February 8, Moskowitz wrote the head of the Civil Administration, Motti Almoz, and said that in discussions with three other officials - Schwartz, the chief architect of the Housing and Construction Ministry, Carlos Greenberg, and the chief architect of the ministry's Jerusalem district, Alon Bernhard - all had agreed that the site for the new outpost "lacked planning feasibility."
But on February 15, Schwartz wrote Moskowitz that Hayekev Hill was feasible, "though it is inferior to the Adam compromise," referring to a 2008 plan to move Migron's residents to the settlement of Adam. The residents rejected that idea.
In internal correspondence with the state prosecution, Schwartz explained that she was originally shown information supporting Moskowitz's stand, but was then informed by the Interior Ministry's director general that the government wanted to study the possibility of moving the Migron settlers to Hayekev Hill so an agreement could be reached. She therefore decided to look more deeply at the issue.
"I studied the government's proposal in depth, and I found planning data that had not been mentioned in my first discussion with the West Bank planners," Schartz said in a statement to Haaretz on Wednesday. After receiving this information, she said, her expert opinion was that the solution was reasonable and could be implemented.