REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- The Israeli government said Monday it has reached an agreement to evacuate settlers from the illegally built Migron outpost by 2015. But it remains to be seen whether the deal will be acceptable to the Supreme Court, which previously ordered the site dismantled by the end of this month.
After months of negotiations, the government said it convinced about 50 religious families in Migron to voluntarily relocate to a new West Bank settlement to be constructed over the next three years about a mile away.
Officials hope the agreement will avoid the need for a forced evacuation involving police, but it must first convince the Supreme Court to issue a stay against the March deadline it set last year.
In issuing the ruling, justices complained that the government had been stalling for years and missed several previous deadlines for evacuating the outpost, which the government has acknowledged was built largely on private Palestinian land and without government permission.
Now the debate is expected to return to the Supreme Court, which will be asked to give the government another extension.
Many have come to view the Migron issue as a test of the Supreme Court’s authority and the rule of law in Israel rather than a debate over the fate of Israel’s largest unauthorized West Bank settlement.
Though the United Nations views all Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal, Israel makes a distinction between those built with permission and those, like Migron, built without government authorization.
-- Edmund Sanders
Photo: A house in the unauthorized West Bank Jewish settlement of Migron, photographed in January. Credit: Sebastian Scheiner / Associated Press