Israeli Government Denies Agreeing Settlers Can Stay in West Bank Outpost

Supreme Court orders government to evacuate Migron outpost by March 31, saying it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

The government on Monday rejected a claim by residents of the West Bank outpost of Migron that they had reached an agreement with the state allowing them to stay put for two more years, despite Supreme Court orders to evacuate them next month.

"There is no agreement in Migron," Minister Benny Begin, the government's representative in negotiations with the Migron residents, told Likud MKs on Monday.

Migron settlers - AP - 14022012

Avi Roeh, who heads the Mateh Binyamin local council, sent Begin a letter on the settlers' behalf Sunday night in which he outlined the details of the purported agreement.

The letter said the Migron residents would stay put until a new neighborhood near Migron was built for them on state land, within two and a half years. It also said the state would examine the possibility of leaving a civilian or military presence in Migron and that any demolition of the existing buildings would be postponed pending a district court decision on Migron residents' suit claiming they own the land on which the outpost is built.

The Supreme Court has ordered the state to evacuate Migron by March 31, saying it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Senior government officials said the terms claimed by Migron residents, which outpost representative Itay Chemo called "a victory," were the starting point for negotiations, not a final deal.

In the meantime, the Civil Administration is continuing to examine the feasibility of relocating the Migron residents to nearby state land. Civil Administration officials have said it is not feasible and that the proposed timetable is impossible to implement. The difficult topography of the new location could drastically push up the cost, according to an initial assessment by Civil Administration officials.