Israel to Evacuate Army Bases to Expand Settlement

Defense Minister orders move, a month after then-Finance Minister Yair Lapid refused to foot $18 million bill without government approval.

Alon Ron

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has ordered the army to evacuate two bases over the Green Line to allow for settlement expansion.

The IDF bases have no space problem because the army can legally seize whatever territory it wants for military needs, including building bases for the occupying army. Some settlements have a temporary shortage of land available for building because Palestinians own private land in the vicinity. To address this shortage, Ya'alon in the past few days ordered evacuation of the bases located on state land, which will be repurposed for settlement expansion.

The Ashmoret Yitzhak Border Police base, located in the outskirts of Kiryat Arba, will be moved to another place in the settlement. The Baalei Zahav base will be moved to an adjacent spot.

Likewise, the defense minister ordered moving ahead with evacuating a Border Police base in Beit El to a nearby by site. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a commitment to evacuate the base as part of a host of benefits the state provided to the Beit El Yeshiva in exchange for agreeing to evacuate illegal housing in the settlement's Beit Ulpana neighborhood, which was built on private Palestinian land, without violence.

Last month, the evacuation hit a snag when then-Finance Minister Yair Lapid refused to finance the operation without the government making a decision on the matter, as Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu feared at the time to bring the decision to the government, and the evacuation was postponed. Now, Ya'alon has ordered to go ahead with it, but it is unclear how the evacuation and subsequent preparation of infrastructure at the site will be financed, estimated at 70 million shekels ($17.9 million).