Israel Supreme Court Justice Criticizes State Over West Bank Outpost Evacuation Deal

Salim Joubran says deal to to allow settlers three and a half years to rebuild homes on Hayekev Hill will 'inevitably turn into eight.'

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran harshly criticized the state on Thursday, after it asked the High Court of Justice to accept the Migron deal and agree to delay the demolition of the settlement outpost by three and a half years.

“What will the rule of law look like when ruling is not followed?” asked Joubran in relation to the original High Court ruling on Migron that called for the demolition of the outpost by the end of March. “You, the State Attorney, say that the outpost in three years, but I know this type of behavior. Three years will inevitably turn into eight.”

Settlers rebuilding a structure in Migron in 2011.Credit: Emil Salman

On Thursday morning, the court began hearing the state's request to postpone the demolition for three and a half years to allow the settlers to rebuild their homes on Hayekev Hill, which will then become part of the settlement of Kochav Yaakov. The state gave the court Schwartz's opinion approving the compromise to support its stand.

But even if the court is willing to entertain the compromise, the state must still convince the justices that it can be implemented.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that the Interior Ministry's planning director was initially opposed to a compromise over the West Bank outpost of Migron, but changed her mind due to government pressure, documents presented to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday show.

The documents show that planning director Binat Schwartz, whose job includes advising the government on planning issues, initially objected to the idea of relocating Migron to a site a few kilometers away, but approved the plan about a week later.

Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Though the Interior Ministry's planning administration is not authorized to deal with planning and construction in the territories, Schwartz was apparently brought in to get around the head of planning at the Civil Administration, Shlomo Moskowitz, who opposes the compromise for planning reasons.

The court had ordered Migron demolished because it was built on privately-owned Palestinian land. The relocation is meant to solve this problem without demolishing the outpost entirely.

On February 8, Moskowitz wrote the head of the Civil Administration, Motti Almoz, and said that in discussions with three other officials - Schwartz, the chief architect of the Housing and Construction Ministry, Carlos Greenberg, and the chief architect of the ministry's Jerusalem district, Alon Bernhard - all had agreed that the site for the new outpost "lacked planning feasibility."

But on February 15, Schwartz wrote Moskowitz that Hayekev Hill was feasible, "though it is inferior to the Adam compromise," referring to a 2008 plan to move Migron's residents to the settlement of Adam. The residents rejected that idea.

In internal correspondence with the state prosecution, Schwartz explained that she was originally shown information supporting Moskowitz's stand, but was then informed by the Interior Ministry's director general that the government wanted to study the possibility of moving the Migron settlers to Hayekev Hill so an agreement could be reached. She therefore decided to look more deeply at the issue.

"I studied the government's proposal in depth, and I found planning data that had not been mentioned in my first discussion with the West Bank planners," Schartz said in a statement to Haaretz on Wednesday. After receiving this information, she said, her expert opinion was that the solution was reasonable and could be implemented.

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