The ongoing controversy about the evacuation of the Migron outpost hit a new high Sunday, as settlers angrily rejected a compromise proposal offered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu asked the Migron settlers to voluntarily evacuate the outpost and receive in return support to establish a community on nearby state land. The settlers rejected the proposal and demanded that Netanyahu authorize the Migron outpost’s settlement by legislation. They threatened that a Migron evacuation would cost Netanyahu his job, because the national religious public will not tolerate a forcible evacuation of the outpost.
At Sunday’s cabinet session, Netanyahu evinced support for the compromise formula forged by Minister Benny Begin. “The High Court of Justice has ruled that Migron must be evacuated by March 31,” said Netanyahu. “The government wants to carry out the court’s decision, in a fashion that involves consent and is peaceful.”
Netanyahu told cabinet ministers that under the compromise formula, a new Migron will be built on state lands on an “authorized, planned basis.” It will not be on private Palestinian land.
“The government calls on Migron residents to agree to this proposed compromise, and thereby allow the government to turn soon to the court and ask for this compromise arrangement to be approved,” Netanyahu stated. “This is a good proposal which does not solve all the problems, but is sufficiently substantive and can solve the Migron issue.”
Netanyahu’s comments came a week ahead of Likud primaries, in which he vies against right-wing hawk Moshe Feiglin. Likud regulars have been pressuring Netanyahu, asking that the Migron evacuation be bypassed. Opponents of a Migron evacuation included Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat and Minister Yuli Edelstein. This ministerial trio, along with a number of Likud MKs, entreat Netanyahu to solve the Migron issue via a legislative move that would retroactively authorize the outpost and essentially appropriate the land from Palestinian owners in exchange for a compensation payment.
The government’s compromise proposal was first brought to the settlers by Begin a few weeks ago, as Haaretz reported in early January. Under Begin’s proposal, the state would establish a new settlement on state-owned land, on the same mountain whose summit currently holds the Migron outpost. After the new settlement’s establishment, Migron residents would receive the land without the issuance of a tender offer, and they would build homes out of their own funds.