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Netanyahu holds inconclusive discussion on Evyatar outpost

Defense officials recommend against establishing yeshiva due to tensions in Judea and Samaria.

"Evyatar Yeshiva," the sign reads as residents demand to return to the Evyatar outpost, near Nablus, Feb. 18, 2022. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
"Evyatar Yeshiva," the sign reads as residents demand to return to the Evyatar outpost, near Nablus, Feb. 18, 2022. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday held a discussion on the fate of the Evyatar outpost in Samaria, with no decisions reached.

The meeting was reportedly held at the request of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is also a minister at the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria.

An agreement was reached in June 2021 between Evyatar’s residents and the previous government for a yeshiva to be built at the site near Nablus in exchange for the residents leaving temporarily until it could be determined whether the land was privately owned.

The defense officials at Sunday’s meeting led by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi opposed establishing the yeshiva now due to political and security tensions with the Palestinian Authority and the current state of relations with the United States and European Union.

“It is impossible to promote such a move two weeks before the start of Ramadan, it would be a very explosive decision,” said Gallant.

Maj. Gen. Ghasan Alyan, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, was also present at the meeting. National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi participated via video link from Washington, where he is with an Israeli delegation discussing the Iranian issue with senior U.S. officials.

Israeli security forces evacuated Evyatar on Feb. 27 after a group of some 450 Jews entered the outpost the previous day in response to a terror attack that killed two Israeli brothers in Huwara, near Nablus. The Israeli military on Thursday evacuated the office set up at Evyatar by Religious Zionism Party lawmaker Tzvi Sukkot.

Evyatar was established in 2013, shortly after a shooting attack nearby killed yeshiva student Evyatar Borovsky. After being repeatedly evacuated, it was more formally reestablished in May 2021 in response to the killing of Yehuda Guetta, 19, who was shot at a bus stop by a Palestinian terrorist not far from the community.

What began as a tent encampment quickly gave way to more permanent structures. But in July 2021, 53 families vacated Evyatar under an agreement struck with the government that allowed for the village to remain intact and under permanent supervision of the Israel Defense Forces. In return, the government vowed to carry out a survey of the land in order to determine its status.

If the land is determined to belong to the state, the government agreed to immediately establish a yeshiva in Evyatar and subsequently allow a permanent civilian presence.

The Evyatar families have repeatedly accused the government of dragging its feet on conducting the land survey.

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