Migron’s gone, but the outposts keep coming


By Anshel Pfeffer, September 6, 2012

The relatively peaceful evacuation of the Migron outpost on Sunday and the compromise reached between the government and the settlers has left no-one satisfied. Not the 50 settler families who left their homes for temporary housing, nor the Palestinian land-owners who will not be gaining access to their property following the evacuation (the site will remain under military control). The hardline settler rabbis are infuriated at losing another battle over the outposts, while the more moderate Yesha Council is frustrated at being bypassed and made to seem irrelevant throughout the process.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is relieved that, in the end, there were no violent confrontations but the entire saga only proved how far rightward his own party has drifted in recent years and the near impossibility of cobbling together a new centre-right coalition after the next elections.

This was hardly an advertisement for the rule of law either: the first High Court petitions were filed six years ago. A government report from 2005 acknowledged that Migron had been built illegally and contrary to government assurances to the American administration.

Even those who still believe in a two-state solution cannot take heart from the result. The Migron settlers are to be built a new neighbourhood two kilometres away, at a cost of NIS 25 million (£6m) to the taxpayer.
Infuriated with Mr Netanyahu, the settlers kept trying to avert the eviction order until the very last minute, but they can still chalk this down as a victory. The government is committed to building hundreds more homes in the West Bank and dozens of illegal outposts still dot the hilltops.

Five years ago, then prime minister Ehud Olmert was still certain that he could repeat the Gaza disengagement and implement his “Convergence” plan in the West Bank. Some 80,000 settlers living far from the Green Line would be removed, while the remaining settlements were to be incorporated into Israel as part of a solution that would see new borders drawn between a Jewish and a Palestinian state.

With a right-wing government in power and little prospect of an opposition victory in next year’s elections, peace talks frozen, the international community focused on Syria and Iran and the Palestinians deeply divided, anything like the Olmert plan currently seems an impossible dream.

Last updated: 12:11pm, September 6 2012