Migron Is Symbol of Broken Promise

8 Years After Dismantle Vow, West Bank Outpost Still Stands

Flying the Flag: Illegal mini-settlements were supposed to be dismantled long ago. Migron’s continued existence reveals flouts the promises made by Israel years ago.
getty images
Flying the Flag: Illegal mini-settlements were supposed to be dismantled long ago. Migron’s continued existence reveals flouts the promises made by Israel years ago.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published March 18, 2012, issue of March 23, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

To almost every country in the world, all of Israel’s settlements on the occupied West Bank are officially illegal. Israel rejects this view but does consider one group of settlements illegal under its own laws. Yet, less than a handful of these unauthorized outposts have been evacuated since June 2004, when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President George W. Bush to remove them. Of those that were evacuated, most were repopulated within days.

Now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet has decided to ignore Sharon’s promise for at least another three years. On March 11, the cabinet reached an agreement with Migron — the oldest of the unauthorized settlements, located near Ramallah — to allow residents to stay put until 2015. In the meantime, an authorized settlement will be built nearby, and that is where they will move in three years.

To Dov Weissglass, a senior aide to Sharon who was deeply involved in the commitments his boss made to Bush, the reason is simple: “My impression is that the present government does not feel it is bound by previous obligations,” he told the Forward. “They simply leave it as it is while all sorts of initiatives to legalize [the illegal outposts] pop up.”

Sharon’s commitments to Bush were based on, but independent from, the Middle East Road Map for Peace, a U.S.-brokered agreement accepted in June 2003 by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Weissglass said he believed this agreement was now “obsolete.”

Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, denied that Israel is failing to act against outposts, citing the Migron arrangement and the government’s plan to evacuate another community, Givat Assaf, this summer. “I don’t accept there is non-evacuation of outposts,” he said. “Illegal construction will be coming down.”

It will not, however, be coming down by March 31, the date by which Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the government to complete Migron’s demolition.

In the last 15 years Israel’s unauthorized outposts have become a bone of contention in the Middle East peace process. The term “outposts” encompasses approximately 100 Jewish communities in the West Bank that were built without government permits or planning approval. Despite this, many receive substantial government support. The international community has said that even if Israel does not evacuate approved settlements until a peace deal is achieved, it should evacuate the outposts immediately.

But outposts have become the issue that slips through the net. In his 2004 letter to Bush, Sharon said, “We are fully aware of the responsibilities facing the State of Israel. These include limitations on the growth of settlements [and] removal of unauthorized outposts.” In an accompanying letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Weissglass, his top aide, pledged to submit to the United States “within 30 days … a list of unauthorized outposts with indicative dates of their removal,” followed by “continuous action to remove those outposts in the targeted dates.”

Israel never submitted the list. U.S. and Israeli officials involved at that time offer varying reasons why.

Sharon, Weissglass said, “had a clear intention to keep his word and dismantle the [outposts]. But afterwards we got started with the [2005] disengagement from Gaza, which was very complicated and a heavy load in terms of public relations. So we did not feel it was the right time.” Later, Sharon was felled by a stroke.

Weissglass said also that America supported putting the matter on hold. And at least one former U.S. government official partially agrees.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.