Israeli officials: West Bank outpost relocation plan isn't feasible
Alternative settlement will take too long to approve, if it can be approved at all, experts say.
A tentative compromise that would allow residents of the West Bank outpost of Migron to relocate to nearby land is "not feasible," sources recently quoted Civil Administration officials as saying.
It's doubtful that a new settlement on the designated land would be approved by the planning authorities and, if it is, it would take a long time, the officials, who are experts in the field rather than political or military appointees, reportedly said at internal meetings.
The proposal, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports, is intended to prompt residents of the West Bank's largest outpost to leave their homes voluntarily. In that way, the government hopes to avoid the violent clashes that could accompany a forced evacuation next month.
The High Court of Justice ruled last year that Migron must be evacuated by March 31. The court says the illegal outpost was built on privately owned Palestinian land, though Migron residents dispute this.
In the last few weeks the residents have agreed, in principle at least, to relocate, though many had previously expressed opposition to the proposal and despite heavy pressure from the right not to agree to it.
The site to which Migron would move under the compromise plan is part of a 64-dunam, or 16-acre, enclave of state-owned land in an area that is almost entirely privately owned. It has been designated as a tourist site and already includes a winery, a visitors center and a gas station. The remaining land, between the gas station and Psagot Winery, comes to 35 dunams, or 8.6 acres.
As of last year, 45 families, a total population of 280 people, were living in Migron.
"The legal issues related to the relocation of Migron are currently being examined, in accordance with the decision of the political leadership," the coordinator of government activities in the territories said in a statement.
There are still significant differences between the sides on what will remain in present-day Migron. The state is willing to use vague wording, indicating that it will examine the options regarding what is legally possible, while residents want the state to commit to a large civilian and military presence at the site that would include agricultural, tourism and educational institutions.
A proposal by Minister Benny Begin, who is negotiating the relocation, is essentially a rehashing of a 2007 effort to reach a deal with Migron residents, under which the outpost would have been moved to the Adam settlement. But the state took a long time to draw up the plans, residents ultimately refused to agree, and the proposal was dropped.
If the High Court's ruling ordering the evacuation of Migron is any indication, the current proposal may not stand up to judicial scrutiny even if all the parties agree to it.
Responding to the similar 2007 relocation plan, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote: "The completion of the [relocation] plan, if and when it succeeds, does not ... look like it is on the horizon.
"Under these circumstances, there is no justification for maintaining the illegal situation that is continuing because of the very existence of the outpost, and the link between evacuating the outpost and establishing a new neighborhood should be dissolved," she wrote.