Residents of the Evyatar outpost in Samaria on Monday approved by a large majority a compromise outline reached with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (see: Bennett Determined to Avoid Clash with Evyatar Settlers, Gantz Eager to Inflict Damage).
According to the approved outline, Evyatar’s residents will leave the place by the end of the week, all the homes will remain intact, and the defense ministry will establish a base for an IDF company on the grounds immediately.
Then, on Rosh Chodesh Elul, in about six weeks, a new Hesder yeshiva will be established on the site, which will employ some of the residents and provide housing to the students.
A Hesder yeshiva program combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the IDF, usually within a Religious Zionist framework.
Meanwhile, a directive will be issued to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to complete a land survey of the area within six months, and the land that will be cleared by the survey will be declared state land, on which a settlement will be established in coordination with the prime minister, the defense minister, the head of the Samaria regional council, and the Nahala movement.
The head of Nahala is Daniela Weiss, possibly the most authoritative voice within the settler movement, and if she is part of the plan, it is an expression of approval on the right for the Bennett government’s move.
Alas, Otzma Yehudit chairman MK Itamar Ben-Gvir did not have it in him to congratulate Bennett and Shaked on their peaceful, not to say bloodless solution, so he responded like a life-long member of the opposition who lives in a world where the government can do no right: “Sure, they promise to examine the status of the land,” Ben-Gvir reacted, “but the nature of the promises made by Bennett’s cabinet members is well known, so how will we know this time whether it is a core promise or not? In any case, this is outline ludicrous, seeing as the Israeli government regulates thousands of Bedouin homes in the Negev, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t regulate the settlement of Evyatar.”
Here is a proposal: If the Hesder yeshiva is established in Evyatar come Rosh Chodesh Elul, it might be nice to invite MK Ben-Gvir to give a shiur there on hakaras hatov-gratitude.
Ben-Gvir’s colleague in the Religious Zionism faction MK Orit Strook was more magnanimous when she tweeted: “Congratulations to Ministers Shaked and Gantz who endeavored together to galvanize this agreement, and I call on the government not to succumb to pressure from coalition members on the left, and not cancel in any way the agreement with the settlers, which is the minimum required.”
So, still no congratulations to Bennett, but at least some show of appreciation.
Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, pointed out the outline includes both a military presence and a horizon for settlement, making it a strategic outline. Establishing settlements in the Land of Israel and the Samaria settlements at the heart of the state is a difficult national mission. The Land of Israel is paid for with pain, and neither side here has defeated the other. In the end, our main mission is to build the Land of Israel and maintain unity among the people of Israel with love for Israel.”
According to Channel 12 News, the defense establishment estimated that the evacuation of the outpost would have cost at least NIS 10 million (roughly $3 million). That’s due to the extent of the massive construction on the site and the need to evacuate at least 50 permanent buildings and dozens of families. The operation would have required paving access roads, recruiting heavy engineering equipment, and providing heavy security – an estimated 2,000 police, Border Guard officers, and IDF soldiers.
The assessment above was brought up at a preparatory meeting for the evacuation at the beginning of last week. The agreement on the outline brings closure to the Bennett-Lapid government’s first major success. Incidentally, the outpost was supposed to be vacated under the Netanyahu government – but Bibi would be Bibi, and he kicked that can full of hot potatoes down the street to his successor.
Well, at this point it’s advantage Bennett, assuming he keeps his word.