Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Israel's Injustice System

In the previous posting I pointed out how the Israeli legal system seems powerless in the face of right-wing nationalists

Here is a similar case, but in many ways much worse. While the current land grab and hooliganism in Hebron, has the state - the police and army - standing by passively while land theft and vandalism go on under their noses, the case of Migron shows the state actively colluding in land theft.

Migron is an illegal settlement - an "outpost" as they are colloquially called in Israel. It is just north of Jerusalem, but clearly in the West Bank. (See air-photo above.)

Not only is Migron illegal under international law (as are virtually all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories), it is illegal under Israel law. Migron was established in 2001, when settlers asked for permission to build a cellular antenna on a hill overlooking Highway 60, near the settlement of Kochav Ya'acov. The following year, settlers began moving mobile homes to the site without permission. Soon the military government provided them with guards, then water and electricity, and later an improved road leading to the site. (The photo at the right was taken in 2002.) By 2006, some 46 families were living there. Most of the mobile homes are sitting on private land, legally registered to Palestinians: their land has been effectively confiscated by the settlers.

The Arab land owners and the Israeli NGO, "Peace Now", jointly filed suit to have the settlement removed - on grounds both of land theft, and of lack of any planning approvals.

The case has been in the courts for 3 years. The state agreed with the petitioners that the outpost was illegal and must be removed. However, it repeatedly sought to postpone hearings, either on the grounds that a new defense minister (first Amir Peretz, then Ehud Barak) had taken office and had to become acquainted with the issue, or because the state wished to reach an agreement with the settlers regarding evacuation. (We wouldn't want to upset Jewish settlers unduly - would we? Never mind that upset caused to the Arab landowners whose property is being usurped.)

In January 2008, the state informed the court it would evacuate Migron in August if it could reach an agreement with the settlers by that time. In August, it informed the court that the settlers had agreed to move to one of three sites. It then asked for three more months to complete negotiations with settlement leaders.

Now - in November 2008 - the has state informed the High Court of Justice that it plans to move ( not remove!) the 46 families living in Migron, which it fully admits was illegally built on private Palestinian land, and with no planning approvals. But it also made clear that it would take years before the occupants of the outpost, were actually moved.

"It must be stressed," the state's representative, attorney Aner Hellman, wrote in a brief to the court, "that we are not talking about moving Migron in the near future, considering that we must first implement planning procedures and then carry out the actual building at the new site," the nearby "legal" settlement of Adam

Have they no shame! The law suit brought by the plaintiffs asks that Migron be removed inter alia because it has no planning approvals. But now, suddenly, the planning process is sacrosanct! And why is the state - or the legal Palestinian land owner - under any obligation to find the land thieves of Migron alternate housing at all ?!!

Of course anyone with half a brain can see that the state's arguments (note the Migron settlers are not called on to defend themselves, the state does that for them) are not designed to have logic or merit, but simply to buy time, and to avoid a conflict with the right wing nationalists . Is it cowardice, or is it collusion? Who cares - the result is the same!

Meanwhile the settlers of Migron are digging in, expanding their settlement, and laughing at the legal games being played. They understand that the legalisms do not matter.

Their spokesman, Gideon Rosenfeld, said he paid scant attention to Monday's court proceedings.

"They can debate it in court if they want to," he said.

But the families believe that the small hilltop on which the community is located belongs to them from both a biblical and legal perspective. According to Rosenfeld, the historical connection the Jews have to the Land of Israel pre-dates the High Court by thousands of years and is stronger than any ruling it can deliver.

"We have not consented to any agreement. There is nothing to even talk about," he added. The 46 families will simply refuse to move no matter what arrangements are made.

And so it goes: dunam after dunam, the Judaization of the West Bank, the redemption of the land, the collapse of justice in the Land of Israel.

Read the full sad story in the Jerusalem Post. Read more about Migron and the legal status of 100+ other "outposts" in this story from NPR.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home