Benny Begin: 'Why is Migron Holding Out?'

Minister Benny Begin discusses his opposition to the outpost legislation in Judea and Samaria.

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Chana Ya'ar and Hezki Baruch,

Minister Benny Begin
Minister Benny Begin
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Why Did Begin Hold Out?

"I insist? They [residents of Migron] insist!. What's wrong with the agreement we made with Ramat Gilad? Why did we reach an agreement there?" Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin asked pointedly in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

Likud Minister Benny Begin strongly castigated the so-called Outpost Law that seeks to normalize the status of threatened communities in Judea and Samaria, because it will "prevent a compromise relocation deal for the residents of Migron," one which would move the beleagured community to another, uncontested spot.

Begin discussed the issue, and his opposition to the bill with Arutz Sheva -- a position he shares with MKs Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor.

The Outpost Law, sponsored by Welfare and Social Services Minister Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home) would forbid the issuance of demolition or eviction orders for communities that have at least twenty families and have stood for four years - instructing courts to instead order monetary compensation or alternative land-grants for claimants who prove ownership of the land.

Begin agrees that it was the state that sent the residents there and made a mistake in the first place, "Now we have to correct the mistake, and one cannot correct such an error by providing (monetary) compensation or an alternative land grant [to landowners, as they will fear retribution from other Arabs if they accept it, ed.]."

As to why the minister is insisting [instead] that the residents leave the outpost, Begin responded, "I insist? They insist. Why are they holding out? What was wrong with the settlement we reached with Ramat Gilad? Why were those residents willing to shift their place a little, but not the people here?"

Begin said that he has suggested to Migron to move all 50 of the caravans together with the families and children during daylight hours, and with their agreement -- and not in the dead of night during a confrontation with police -- two kilometers from the permanent homes in Migron. He feels strongly that nothing else will work and that they will face demolition without a solution if they hold out.

Arutz Sheva asked Begin if he would have made the same suggestion (to evacuate the area) in the case of the Azrieli Buildings [in Tel Aviv] or in the Yefe Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, but the minister responded, "The two are not the same. I am trying to prevent the next conflict and the people of Migron are holding out. At the end of the day, what will happen on the 31st of March is that the state will evacuate Migron."

The minister was not surprised that most of his colleagues were in favor of the outpost legislation, rather than shifting the communities. "Where is democracy? This is a public matter and not a matter for a majority vote of ministers. We are a nation of laws," he said.

Critics say Begin's attempt to reach a deal to move the community fails to address the underlying problem, that of issuing demolition orders for communities the government itself helped build in the first place - and runs counter to the Israeli consensus. However, others, such as Hebrew language rightist newspaper Makor Rishon's Haggai Segal, are for the shift and say that the government here acknowledges its error, and is legalizing a community by compensating residents with a nearby place on uncontested land.

All of the faction heads in Netanyahu's ruling coalition, as well as 20 of the 27 Likud lawmakers, have demanded a solution other than demolitions and evictions be found.

"Unfortunately, the 'great Democrat' Benny Begin has prevented the electoral process from putting an end to the suffering of the residents of Migron," said an independent residents' committee caustically in response to the interview. The residents so far have rejected the government solution.

"It would be more helpful if Begin... would join his colleagues, the ministers of the Likud, and support the outpost legislation instead," the group added.