Migron founders: Gov't okayed, funded settlement
The Migron outpost, which the state promised the High Court of Justice to dismantle by August, was established with the encouragement of former prime minister Ariel Sharon and the approval of then-defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, two of Migron's founders have told Haaretz.
As the High Court hearing on Migron resumes today, members of the outpost plan to argue that it was built on land purchased in part by Jews, contrary to the state's announcement that it was private Palestinian land.
Migron, west of Ramallah, was founded in 1999, and again in 2001. Today there are 45 families living there. Talia Sasson's report on West Bank outposts states that Migron was established illegally on private Palestinian land, and without official clearance. Sasson revealed that despite this, the government found various means of budgeting nearly NIS 4 million for building Migron.
In 2006, Palestinians who claim ownership of the outpost land petitioned the High Court, along with the Peace Now movement. In its much-delayed reply to the petition, the state told the court last month that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have decided to remove the outpost by August.
The state's reply says Migron was built on Palestinian land. But the two Migron founders, Itai Harel and Shuki Sat, as well as outpost secretary Avi Teksler claim that half of Migron's lands were bought by Jews through the El Watan company, which is controlled by Migron residents.
"Most of the buildings that Peace Now is demanding the state destroy were built on lands held by the Custodian of Absentee Property," Teksler says. "But the state is placing obstacles to registering them for political reasons, not legal reasons."
Harel and Sat also maintain that Sharon knew about the outpost's establishment. Sat says that in 2002 Sharon complained to settler leaders that the outpost's trailers were not placed at the highest point on the hill, and during official discussions even said that "Migron is a clear example of an outpost that has strategic importance from a security standpoint - one that must not be removed."
Sat and Harel present documents purportedly demonstrating that in 2002 and 2003 Ben-Eliezer approved the process of planning and permits for Migron, including moving forward on buying land there, which the settlers initiated, as well as steps to include Migron in the jurisdiction of the nearby settlement Kochav Yaakov.
Harel and Sat have another document they say is the "outposts agreement" prepared by the Defense Ministry in October 2002, showing that Migron was classified "for further monitoring, groundwork and advancing planning procedures," and not as an illegal outpost. A summary of a discussion held on December 16 at the Defense Ministry states that "Ramat Migron is a territory in the process of being acquired, and has been approved by the defense minister for advancing procedures."
Harel, who owns a horse ranch for riding therapy, and Sat, the principal of a high school yeshiva, have been living at Migron for almost seven years. Their thick file containing all documents relating to the outpost's relations with the authorities contain budgetary permits transferred to Migron.
For example, the rural building administration for the Jerusalem district (a branch of the Housing and Construction Ministry) transferred more than NIS 4 million for setting up Migron's infrastructure - including water, electricity and sewage - and another NIS 800,000 for building a synagogue, daycare center and kindergarten.
The file also contains the detailed masterplan for Migron as a neighborhood of 500 housing units on 890 dunams of land. This plan was prepared and paid for by the Housing Ministry, and states that the landholder is the Custodian of Absentee Property in Judea and Samaria.