Israel Has Yet to Decide Whether to Demolish Synagogue in Vacated West Bank Outpost

Migron leader requests that the synagogue and mikveh ritual baths be either moved or left in place.

Now that the approximately 50 families living in Migron have been evacuated to their new, temporary homes, the state must decide what to do about the synagogue that was built in the unauthorized outpost in the West Bank. The High Court of Justice ordered Migron's evacuation after determining that it was built on privately owned Palestinian land. The evictions were carried out earlier this week.

While the Defense Ministry is bent on demolishing Migron's residential buildings, officials concede that the fate of the synagogue is a sensitive issue. Moti Yogev, the deputy head of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, to whose jurisdiction Migron belongs, has requested that the community's permanent buildings be moved rather than demolished, and that the synagogue and mikveh ritual baths be either moved or left in place.

After the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip the state, complying with a High Court ruling, did not raze the synagogues in the Jewish settlements that were evacuated. Migron residents hope this precedent will be followed for them. The cases are different however, in that the High Court has issued demolition orders for all buildings in Migron.

The cabinet is expected to discuss the issue, but any deviation from the rulings must be approved by the court.

Defense Ministry workers yesterday continued to pack up and move the last of the families' belongings from their homes in Migron to their temporary quarters nearby. Officials said during the day that the work was behind schedule and would only be completed by nightfall. The next stage is to move nonpermanent structures from the site. Barring any changes to the plan, the apartment buildings and other permanent buildings will then be razed.

A spokesman for the Migron evacuees issued a statement yesterday condemning the vandalism earlier in the day at the Cistercian (Trappist ) monastery, the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs, at Latrun. Some of the graffiti sprayed on the monastery walls indicated that the act was in retaliation for Migron's evacuation: "Needless to say, any attack on religious sites, in Migron or anywhere else in the world is forbidden, and is an act of moral depravity," the spokesman said in his statement.

Migron residents loading boxes onto trucks on August 4, 2012
Emil Salman