In Compromise, Settlers to Leave Illegal Outpost Until Land Rights Resolved

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The Evyatar outpost
The Evyatar outpost

The residents of the illegal Evyatar outpost in the northern West Bank agreed on Monday to evacuate the settlement as part of a new deal reached with the government.

Later on Monday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told his party members that the "compromise in Evyatar is not a done deal yet, and it's a sensitive issue."

A political source told Haaretz that Bennett's office has been holding talks in recent hours with the Defense Ministry regarding the proposed compromise and that matters are still being examined.

Though the residents will leave the settlement their houses will not be demolished and the ownership status of the land will be reexamined, according to the proposed agreement.

If the examination finds that it is possible to legalize the outpost, the settlers will be allowed to return to their homes. Until it is completed, a military base will be erected at the site, and later a yeshiva will also be established. Defense officials are expected to approve the agreement soon.

Far-right leader Bezalel Smotrich welcomed the proposed agreement. "The determination and the love of the land have won.

The unauthorized Evyatar outpost in the West Bank, last week.Credit: Amir Levy

"After the settlers gave their consent, the ball is now in the government's court. It must approve the agreement, do the right thing and prevent unnecessary and severe destruction," Smotrich said.

On Sunday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued an announcement saying that in the past few days he has been busy trying “to reach an agreed upon evacuation” with the residents of Evyatar. “The matter will be dealt with by defense officials and by myself personally, and in the most sensitive and determined manner.”

Last week, the head of the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, rejected the appeal of the settlers against his demarcation order requiring them to leave Evyatar, which took effect on Sunday. In response to their appeal, it was written that they were given a week before the evacuation order took effect.

Evyatar was established in early May on the land of three Palestinian villages, after the murder of Yehuda Guetta, who was shot and killed by a Palestinian at the nearby Tapuach junction.

The Civil Administration did not answer Haaretz’s questions concerning the ownership of the land at the site, and said the matter is still under examination. In any case, the land has never been declared state-owned land.

A military base used to be located at the site of Evyatar, after a “confiscation order” was issued to use the land. This could indicate the land is privately owned by Palestinians. Aerial photographs published by Dror Etkes showed that before the base was built, the land was farmed. But Evyatar settlers say that according to the aerial photographs they have, the land was not cultivated over the past decade.   

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