The status of the Migron community, mistakenly called an outpost, has been rumbling in the background for years, with claims and counter-claims as to who is the real owner of the land it sits on. What is clear is that no Palestinian owner has ever come forward in person to claim the land, and equally clear is that the land was settled by Migron’s residents with the full permission and legal permissions granted by the State of Israel.
Jameel at the Muqata has had extensive coverage of Migron’s situation. His last article offered “NIS1 million to anyone able to prove that Migron is on stolen land“. (Bold highlights are mine).
The controversy revolves around two main issues: (1) who owns the land, and (2) if there was government negligence, who was responsible and who should be compensated. Despite the trauma of expelling 9,000 people from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron, Israel seems on the verge of repeating its mistakes.
Built more than a decade ago, Migron received the active support of the prime minister, the defense minister, the IDF commander, the civil administration, the housing and construction, transportation and communications ministries, the electric, water and telephone companies, as well as other government agencies. In other words, because of Migron’s strategic location, it was established with de facto government approval.
Part of the land on which Migron was built was registered to Arabs who left the region and cannot be found; this land thus came under the jurisdiction of the Custodian of Abandoned Property (apotropus) – a government agency established to manage land and property that is uninhabited and unclaimed. Another part of Migron was allegedly purchased by Jews, but not registered as such for fear of exposing the Arabs who sold it to the PA’s death penalty for such ‘crimes.’ (read the rest of this here, at the JPost)
To this day, except for legal battles being led by Peace Now, there is no one who contests the ownership of the land. Not one Arab has come forward to claim the settlers have “stolen” it.
To make the matter even more absurd, Israel’s High Court has even adopted the position that Jews may be evicted from their homes even if no opposing land ownership claims are presented.
Carl at Israel Matzav has also written widely about Migron and I would highly recommend reading his articles for much more background information.
Returning to the latest activity, just last week it seemed that a compromise had been reached between the state and the settlers to evacuate the community and move it a few miles down the road to land that is definitely privately owned by Israelis (as opposed to the uncertain legal status of Migron’s current position). No one was 100% happy but that is the nature of compromise and it seemed like a good plan.
The residents of Migron on Sunday signed an agreement according to which they will voluntarily evacuate the West Bank community and relocate to state-owned land on a hill nearby.
“Had we refused to sign, Migron would have been erased from the map in less than a week. We didn’t want our children to have to endure such a trauma,” said Itay Harel, a resident of the settlement.
The deal was signed by Migron’s residents and Minister Benny Begin at the community’s synagogue.
The negotiations on Migron’s evacuation were conducted over an18-month period, but a dispute regarding the demolition of structures in the outpost prevented an agreement. The final deal states that the residents will move to state-owned land situated about two kilometers from Migron, while the vacant structures will remain intact until the Supreme Court rules on the land’s ownership.
However, today, in an outrageously undemocratic move, Israel’s hyper-activist unelected Supreme Court decided today that a compromise, reached by the two parties, one of which is the State itself, is not legally binding, and ordered the compromise nullified and the community of Migron to be evacuated forthwith. Only from the “goodness” of their heart did the judges allow Migron to stand until August in order to give the residents time to organize themselves and their children at the end of the school year.
The High Court of Justice rejected on Sunday the compromise agreement reached between the State and the residents of the Migron outpost in the West Bank.
The judges, headed by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, ruled that the outpost must be evacuated by August 1. The annulled compromise deal stated that the outpost’s residents would voluntarily relocate to state-owned land situated on a nearby hill within three-and-a-half years.
Predictably the left-wing “activists” who stirred up the whole hornet’s nest, were celebrating with glee while the right-wing and Land of Israel followers reacted bitterly:
Civil rights group Yesh Din also welcomed the court’s decision. “We hope the government will learn its lesson and not evade its duty to protect the rights of Palestinian landowners, who have not been able to access their land for over a decade,” said Yesh Din director Haim Erlich.
However, civil rights group the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel slammed the court.
“The High Court justices could have made a decision to avoid conflict in Israeli society,” said Forum director attorney Nachi Eyal. “Clearly the court thinks human rights are only for Palestinians, not for Jews.”
As Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi party) commented bitterly about the undemocratic nature of an unelected Supreme Court nullifying Knesset legislation:
MK Uri Orbach (HaBayit HaYehudi) said the court’s judgment clarified the irrelevance of setting a date for new elections.
“There is no need to advance the elections. We should eliminate them. Any which way it is clear that the judges believe they run the country,” he said.
What worries me is that if a signed and sealed compromise between the two parties can be nullified so easily, what will become of compromises already reached and enacted, for example the one regarding Ramat Gilad? Will that agreement too be torn up and thrown to the wind?
If this is the way the Supreme Court acts, what incentive will there be for settlers in the future to deal with the Knesset or the courts if these authorities cannot be trusted to act in good faith?