October 5, 2008 - 8:00pm

Five Palestinian farmers are suing the state for not evacuating the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron, which is built upon land they own.

The plaintiffs are seeking NIS 1.5 million for damage caused to their livelihoods by the outpost, which the government committed to evacuate over a year ago.

The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din filed the lawsuit at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Sunday on behalf of the plaintiffs. The organization described the lawsuit brought as the first of its kind involving an illegal outpost.

Yesh Din activist Dror Etkes said the Palestinians only decided to launch legal proceedings after having waited years for the outpost's evacuation to no avail.

"The Palestinians have dozens of dunams in the outpost that they cannot till," said Etkes. "They waited for the state to do something, instead of building Migron and protecting it. Now the land owners have decided to turn [to the court] in order to exercise their rights."

The suit was filed despite an agreement reached in August between the Defense Ministry and the settlement movement's Yesha Council to evict the outpost and relocate its residents to a settlement elsewhere in the West Bank.

A U.S.-sponsored "road map" for peace, reaffirmed at the Annapolis summit last year that relaunched Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, calls on Israel to freeze all settlement activity on land Palestinians want for a state.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017