Settlement Leader Seeks Payback From West Bank Outpost He Tried to Save

Ze’ev Hever, at loggerheads with former residents of Migron, wants NIS 150,000 for his efforts on their behalf.

A falling-out between Ze’ev Hever, head of the settlement division of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements, and former residents of the illegal outpost Migron, has led another organization that Hever heads - Amana - to make the unusual demand that the former outpost pay NIS 150,000 for work Hever performed in his unsuccessful effort to head off its evacuation.

The residents of Migron were evicted in September of last year by court order and relocated to temporary quarters, but their conflict with Hever did not end after they were resettled.

Since 1989, Hever, who goes by the nickname “Zambish,” has headed the Amana cooperative society, a group whose goal is to establish Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank. Results of a Haaretz investigation published in May revealed that Amana is heavily involved in illegal construction activity and that the police has been investigating complaints of negligence against the organization. Among the illegal activity was the unauthorized construction beginning in 2001 of the Migron outpost on land owned by Palestinians.

Once constructed, the buildings at Migron belonged to Amana but the Jews who lived in the outpost paid taxes on the structures. The High Court of Justice order that the outpost be evacuated prompted a dispute between the residents and Amana.

Following the court order, Hever pushed for a compromise providing for the outpost’s relocation to the settlement of Adam Mizrah (“Adam East”).

Such an arrangement would have provided Amana with an economic advantage, since more than 50 housing units could be built there for former residents of Migron that Amana could sell at a profit. For their part, however, the residents preferred to pursue a legal and political campaign over their right to remain at Migron. At a certain stage, Migron residents said it became apparent that Hever was working behind their backs. As a result, they refused to continue the NIS 30 monthly payments that each family living in Amana-affiliated communities generally make to Amana.

Over the years, Amana has become a major economic enterprise with revenues in the tens of millions of shekels. Hever had insisted on presenting its work as strictly ideologically motivated, as an effort to settle Jews in the West Bank, but recently the organization’s treasurer, Moshe Yogev, sent a letter to the secretariat of the former Migron outpost stating that Hever had devoted 500 hours in an effort to prevent the eviction of Migron’s residents. As a result, the letter stated, the residents were being asked to pay NIS 150,000 for his services within a week. The former residents rejected the request, and so far Hever has not taken legal action to collect.

One former Migron resident told Haaretz that the demand for payment was “chutzpah” of the highest order, saying that no one had hired his services for a fee. “The man is a bully. If you do what he tells you to do, everything is all right. If not, he harasses you and demands money for his services.”

Leaders of the West Bank settlement movement expressed surprise over Hever’s demand. One prominent leader, who asked not to be identified, said: “It was known that Hever and Migron had a falling out. He seems to have wanted to show them how much he was disgusted with their leadership.”

Hever did not respond to Haaretz, and sources from the former outpost said they preferred not to reply.

Ze’ev Hever, head of Amana, in the Knesset.
Olivier Fitoussi