The state will allow several of the evacuated buildings in the West Bank settlement of Migron to remain standing, due to claims made by residents that they had recently bought the lands on which the homes are built, the state told Israel's High Court Monday.
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The High Court of Justice last month ordered the state to evacuate the illegal outpost and dismantle it by August; however, the court subsequently granted a government request to postpone the eviction. The final date for the evacuation was set for August 28.
The state’s response Monday followed a petition filed by 17 families – about one-third of the settlement’s residents – that asked the court to permit them to remain in their homes. The residents argued that the al-Watan development company, which is owned by the Mateh Binyamin regional council, had purchased part of the outpost's lands, and therefore the central argument against them – that they were living on private Palestinian land – was no longer valid.
The settlers’ new claims of ownership refer to plots number 2, 10 and 23.
Due to pressure over the past month by settlers and by ministers representing them, the state examined whether it was possible to retroactively approve the construction of some of the buildings in the outpost that are currently considered illegal.
In its reply, the state said that according to data presented to the government's legal advisor by the Israel Lands Administration, the plots in question are not accessible by any public roads or paths. Thus, accepting the petitioners’ request to stay in their homes “would mean the Palestinians’ right to property in the Migron area would be breached on a daily basis,” it noted.
In reference to the specific plots in question, the state said that the size of plot 2 does not allow a regulatory change in the planning program. As for plot 23, it said that the settlers had only purchased a quarter of the plot and the petitioners’ continued presence on it would violate the property rights of the other plot owners. The state said that the path leading to plot 10 crosses privately owned Palestinian land.
However, the state said it will allow vacant buildings on the plot to be left standing, asking the court to delay implementation of the eviction ruling by three months until an ongoing investigation into the legality of the real estate transactions is completed.
“We recall that all of the buildings in Migron are illegal and that demolition orders were issued many years ago,” the state said. The state’s reply was accompanied by an affidavit signed by Likud Minister Benny Begin, declaring that the response represents the viewpoint of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
In its reply, the state does not mention a fixed date for the outpost’s evacuation. As of now, any action has been postponed until the next court hearing, scheduled for August 28, when the justices are expected to set a target date for the eviction.