State to High Court: Migron must be evacuated in next few days
One group of 17 settler families claim they are ‘ready to stay at all costs,’ while another group of 30 families petitions for a delay of eviction until temporary site is completed.
The state demanded Tuesday that the West Bank outpost of Migron must be vacated in the next few days, in accordance with Israel’s High Court ruling.
“Migron must be evacuated during the next few days,” said prosecutor Osnat Mandel, head of the Petitions Department of the State Attorney’s Office, during a High Court of Justice hearing on Tuesday regarding the evacuation of the Migron outpost in the West Bank.
At the hearing, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis and Justices Edna Arbel and Miriam Naor discussed two separate petitions submitted by two groups of Migron settlers. One group of 17 families requested to stay on their land, which they claim to have purchased legally from its Palestinian owners, while another group of 30 families seeks to delay the eviction order until construction at a new temporary residence site is completed.
The justices have not yet handed down a final ruling in either case.
During the hearing, Mandel said that the settlers’ demands regarding the temporary residence will not hold up the eviction, and that if necessary, the settlers will be moved to a different location while waiting for the temporary site to be completed.
Yuval Funk, director of the World Zionist Organization’s central settlement division, provided an overview of the construction situation and asserted that the temporary housing at the site is ready for habitation. The settlers are being difficult and demanding permits from the fire department, he said. In response, Justice Miriam Naor asked sarcastically whether the Migron outpost itself had been granted such permits.
Regarding the settlers’ demand to enclose the temporary site with a fence, Funk noted that he had spoken with the head of Binyamin regional council, Avi Roeh, who said it was not a good idea because then the site “will look like a ghetto.”
Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents Peace Now, said that the court must convey a broader message because of the civil disobedience in Migron. “People came and stole land for ideological reasons,” Sfard pointed out.
Ten years after the start of construction at the outpost, “it’s time to send a message and the way to do this is by demolishing everything that was built there and then have the settlers obtain building permits. The symbol of Migron must be shattered,” Sfard said.
Attorney Ze’ev Scharf, who represents the 17 families requesting to stay on their land, claimed that the land has sufficient access roads; if the state finds them unsuitable, then it must acquire the necessary land from Palestinians to build appropriate roads.
Migron settlers petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday to postpone the evacuation of the settlement, until construction work on temporary residences is completed. At the same time, another group of Migron residents, which claims to have purchased land in the settlement legally, have stated that they are ready to remain in their homes at all costs – even if they will need 4x4 vehicles to reach them.
A senior government official told Haaretz that the Migron settlers’ demands are outrageous. “In the upper portion of the settlement, they are prepared to stay at all costs, without water or electricity. On the other hand, in the lower part (the families that are due to be evicted – C.L.), they are arguing over every tiny detail; until they have a heated mikveh (ritual bath), they won’t leave,” he said.
The group of 17 families claims that the al-Watan development company legally purchased the land on which their caravans are located; thus, there is no reason to evacuate them. The other group, of 30 families, was supposed to have been evicted today and sent to a temporary camp, in accordance with the High Court ruling.
The government refused the request of the 17 families to remain on their lands because even though the lands were purchased legally, there are no paved roads that offer access to the lands, except for roads that pass through private Palestinian territory.
In response to the refusal, settlers claimed on Monday that in order to realize their property rights, they are ready to deal with any limitation, even if they “must commit to using the existing roads in 4x4 vehicles,” making it unnecessary to pave special access roads that would traverse privately owned Palestinian land.
Other settlers are claiming discrimination. “It is inconceivable that just because a plot of land can only be reached by a 4x4 vehicle, the owners’ rights to use and hold the land are forgotten and the land will lay idle… is it possible that the question of whether a Ford Focus or a Land Rover can reach the plot is really determining property rights?” Settlers also claim that it is possible to pave a road for private vehicles.
The second group, consisting of 30 families, petitioned the High Court of Justice to postpone the order of eviction until construction is completed at the temporary residence. A safety adviser hired by the group stated that until sidewalks are paved, safety barriers are constructed, piles of waste are removed and public structures completed, the area is unfit for habitation.
In contrast, the World Zionist Organization, which built the site, claims that 50 mobile homes have been completed, including water and electricity, and that the rest of the work presents no obstacle to the move.