Court says set­tle­ment must come down by March 31

To im­pact other rogue en­claves

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY AMY TEIBEL

JERUSALEM | The Is­raeli Supreme Court on Sun­day re­jected the state’s re­quest to post­pone the dis­man­tling of a large, un­sanc­tioned West Bank set­tler en­clave un­til 2015, deal­ing a blow to set­tlers’ hopes to keep dozens of rogue out­posts stand­ing.

The state sub­mit­ted the de­lay pe­ti­tion ear­lier this month, seek­ing to by­pass the high court’s ear­lier or­der to dis­man­tle the Mi­gron out­post by March 31 be­cause it was built on pri­vate Pales­tinian land.

Mi­gron, home to 300 set­tlers, is one of the largest unau­tho­rized en­claves and a sym­bol of set­tler de­fi­ance.

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s pro-set­tler coali­tion had asked the court to let Mi­gron’s set­tlers stay put un­til new homes would be built for them on a nearby West Bank hill­top by Novem­ber 2015.

The court ruled that ac­cept­ing the state’s agree­ment would be tan­ta­mount to flout­ing the rule of law. “The obli­ga­tion to ful­fill the [ear­lier] rul­ing is not a mat­ter of choice,” it said.

At­tor­ney Michael Sfard, who rep­re­sented the Pales­tinian landown­ers in court, wel­comed the rul­ing and said he had no prob­lem with the court’s agree­ment to ex­tend the evac­u­a­tion dead­line un­til Aug. 1.

“The Is­raeli high court up­held to­day the rule of law and in­di­cated that the law ap­plies to all,” Mr. Sfard said. “I hope that the gov­ern­ment and the set­tlers will not try to pull any tricks and will not try to cir­cum­vent this im­por­tant decision, and that the res­i­dents of Mi­gron will evac­u­ate the il­le­gal out­post peacefully, so that the land will be re­turned af­ter a decade to its le­gal own­ers, my clients.”

Mi­gron’s res­i­dents dis­pute the state’s po­si­tion that their out­post stands on pri­vate land.

“The res­i­dents of Mi­gron re­ceived to­day the harsh court rul­ing, which is based on the false claim of pri­vately held land, and whose ob­jec­tive is the ex­pul­sion of peace-lov­ing peo­ple,” said Mi­gron spokesman Itai Chemo.

The Pales­tini­ans claim the West Bank for their fu­ture state, along with Gaza and East Jerusalem, ter­ri­to­ries Is­rael cap­tured in the 1967 Mideast war.

They see all Is­raeli set­tle­ment as il­le­gal en­croach­ment on land they claim for their hoped-for state.

While Is­rael has given its au­tho­riza­tion to more than 120 set­tle­ments, out­posts like Mi­gron do not have even that level of le­git­i­macy be­cause their con­struc­tion was not of­fi­cially sanc­tioned.

Even so, the gov­ern­ment has hooked them up to util­ity grids and has sent sol­diers to pro­tect them.

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