The government has just made an unprecedented decision to sign an agreement with the residents of Migron not to evacuate the settlement as required by a Supreme Court decision. According to the agreement, the government will allow the settlers to continue living in the outpost on the hill until a new settlement is built for them 2 km away. Even after the new settlement is built, the government will consider leaving the buildings in the original outpost intact.
Peace Now Yariv Oppenheimer: “This is a recipe of how not to comply with the Supreme Court. Building a new and isolated settlement deep in the heart of the territories goes against Israel’s interest and is aimed at placating an extremist settler minority.”
Settlement Watch Hagit Ofran: “This agreement is no less than a disgrace. The government of Israel is actually saying ‘we will not evict Migron, we will not do what the Supreme Court told us. And we will give in to any settlers’ threat. It sends a message that Israel (will) build more settlements.”
The Migron compromise must not be permitted for the following reasons:
1. It is the first time the state is avoiding carrying out an explicit and unequivocal Supreme Court decision, in an absolute order, to evacuate the outpost by March 31, 2012. Due to pressure by the settlers, the government is asking the Supreme Court to cancel its own decision, thereby violating the basic principles of the supremacy of the court and finality of litigation. The settlers have proven that by political pressure on ministers and members of Knesset, they are able to cancel even Supreme Court rulings.
2. According to the agreement, for the first time since 1992 the government will officially establish a new settlement in an isolated, mountainous area deep into the West Bank, in an area that will not remain under Israeli sovereignty in any prospective agreement. The new settlement is another obstacle to peace and to Israel’s ability to separate from the Palestinians into two states.
3. The agreement allows the Migron settlers to continue living on land that is not theirs and belongs to Palestinian owners, until the construction of the new settlement is finished, which could take more than a decade (the construction of settlements for the Gush Katif evacuees still goes on). The government does not really intend to evacuate the residents of the outpost and is managing to postpone the evacuation by many years yet again.
4. Even after the new settlement is built, the government does not intend to evacuate the original outpost. Actually, after the new settlement is built there will be Migron I and Migron II. Thus, the settlers and the government are making a mockery of the rule of law and instead of evacuating an illegal outposts, the government is duplicating it and creating two new settlements.
5. The planning and construction of the new settlement in the intended area will cost the Israeli tax payer astronomic sums in the hundreds of millions of shekels. Just the initial planning and building stages are expected to cost NIS 200 million, an average of NIS 5 million per family. The location on which the settlers insist is a mountainous and difficult terrain, making construction costs particularly high. In the past, the settlers were offered to move to a new neighborhood in the settlement of Adam at a lower cost, but they rejected the offer and insisted on staying in the outpost.
6. The compromise agreement will encourage the settlers to continue building outposts and buildings illegally. They will learn that crime pays: the government surrenders and rewards anyone who builds and initiates illegal outposts in the occupied territories, even on private Palestinian land. The settlers are managing to defeat the state and decide how much and where Israel should build in the territories. Even the Supreme Court and its unequivocal judgment cannot stop the continued illegal construction on the ground.