Migron (Photo: Reuters)
Sidestepping a 10-year settlement freeze, Israel reached a deal last week with the illegal settlement of Migron, allowing the outpost to violate a court-ordered eviction. Following approval from the government’s prosecutors, the outpost will now have until 2015 to relocate. Initially, the hilltop encampment was marked for demolition at the end of March.
The deal was reached after a month of negotiations with the Israeli government when Likud representatives placated the settlers’ red lines: no demolitions, no evictions, and no returning land to their Palestinian owners.
The agreement met all of the settlers’ conditions, and the outpost is protected from demolition for another two years. At that time, the settlers are to relocate to a different hilltop in the West Bank on “Israeli” state-owned land. And their semi-permanent shanty houses will remain empty, or the military will take over the hilltop. Either way, the Palestinians are not getting this piece of the West Bank back anytime soon.
Migron has had a roller coaster relationship with the Israeli government.
It is home to some 50 families including the “price tag” youth known for violently assaulting Palestinians and damaging their property. And only a few months ago, the outpost was under fire after settlers attacked a military base, prompting Israeli officials to decry “Jewish terrorism.”
In the months preceding the March eviction date, the settlers launched a PR campaign to combat their reputation of gun-wielding youth, and successfully shifted their image to that of your average family.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, though illegal, Migron received millions of shekels for construction. Government ministries poured cash into roads and basic services for years until being subjected to criticism. In 2003, then prime minister Ariel Sharon publicly advocated demolishing the outpost. The eviction order, however, was not pursed due to the Second Intifada.
Today, Migron has government support again including a team of ministers who lobbied against the eviction. Israeli law, a court ruling, and the Palestinian farmers who have valid titles to the area all indicate the settlers should be forced out of their make-shift structures, yet the settlers stay.