Netanyahu to Gantz: delay evacuation of illegal West Bank outpost

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approached Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday and requested that the evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Evyatar be delayed.

The letter, sent by Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Asher Hayoun, to Benny Gantz’s chief of staff, said that the special demarcation order, which prevents further building at the site and required the evacuation of the outpost, was issued without the proper authority.

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Hayoun claimed that such an order requires the approval of the prime minister, and asked that the defense ministry “refrain from enforcement” until the status of the land be clarified.

Hayoun wrote, “A demarcation order is an extreme step whose use is reserved for extraordinary circumstances, where there is no other option for enforcement. In light of this, an order of this time requires the approval of the prime minister, as has been the custom.” 

Head of the Samaria regional Council Yossi Dagan said in response, “I call on all the parties on the right and on the left to approve Evyatar. The establishment of Evyatar is a principled Zionist reaction to the despicable murder at Tapuah junction.” Dagan temporarily moved his office to Evyatar on Monday. 

The outpost, built on the site of an army base on land owned by the villages of Beita, Qabalan and Yatma, was established in response to the shooting attack at the junction at the beginning of May, in which a yeshiva student, Yehuda Guetta, was murdered.

The outpost is named after Evyatar Borovsky, a resident of the settlement of Yitzhar who was murdered in a terror attack in May 2013. Following his murder there were three attempts to build an outpost at the site – in 2013, 2016 and 2018 – but the mobile homes and other structures erected there were quickly evacuated.

According to Daniella Weiss, the general secretary of the Nahala settlement movement, the outpost currently covers several dozen dunams, but has the potential to expand to 600 dunams (about 150 acres). She said that 42 families are already living there, with another 75 hoping to join them.