Peace Now Head: Settlers to Blame for Migron Woes
The head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, says his organization is not to blame for the eviction of Israelis from Migron on Sunday. In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Oppenheimer argued that if residents of the town had listened to Peace Now, they could have avoided trouble.
Construction in Migron should have stopped six years ago when Arabs first laid claim to the land, he said. “The heads of the Yesha Council and Amana [construction firm] knew the direction things were going,” he argued.
In response to an interviewer’s question, Oppenheimer admitted that the results of Peace Now’s lawsuits have not lived up to his hopes, despite the group’s ostensible victories. Residents of Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood were forced out of their homes – and promised 300 new homes would be built in exchange; residents of Migron were given a new community, and the government decided to authorize the communities of Bruchin and Rachelim.
However, he said, Peace Now will ultimately see its goals put into action. “Those who celebrate now… it will end with two or three [more] evictions when the day comes for a diplomatic agreement,” he predicted.
In Migron, Peace Now's claims regarding the land were controversial. The Arabs who claimed ownership of Migron’s land won a Supreme Court order evicting the Israeli residents, but withdrew a claim for damages – leading many to suspect that they could not prove ownership.
Oppenheimer insisted that the ownership claims were legitimate, and that the suit was withdrawn for other reasons. The suit was intended to return the land to its Arab owners, he said, but once the Supreme Court had ruled, it was no longer necessary.
The plaintiffs also feared that the suit would drag on for years, he said, during which time the community of Migron would remain in place.
Oppenheimer said the state was right to expel seventeen families that had managed to purchase the land on which their houses sat from the Arabs claiming ownership. The sale looked suspicious, and may have been illegal, he accused.
Ultimately, he said, “Even if the sale was completely above-board, it’s not the settlers who decide where to build or not build, but the government of Israel.”