Evyatar
Evyatar צילום: רועי חדי

The town of Evyatar pushed back Tuesday against claims that the government has backed out of a deal with residents aimed at preventing the community’s demolition.

A spokesperson for Evyatar said Tuesday that the government remains committed to the deal reached between the Defense Ministry and residents on Monday.

The spokesperson added that there remain technical legal questions regarding the implementation of parts of the deal, but emphasized that the government has not nixed the agreement.

According to a statement by the spokesperson, it must be determined whether the town can be converted into a Hesder yeshiva this summer, or whether that stage of the implementation of the agreement must be delayed until after the Defense Ministry completes its survey of the land in question to verify that the property is not privately owned.

“There is a legal question regarding the opening of a yeshiva on the land, and whether it can be done on August 9th, or only after the survey is completed.”

The statement was released in response to claims by Religious Zionist Party chairman Bezalel Smotrich that the government had withdrawn its support for the deal with Evyatar residents.

“Despite earlier reports, the government has gone back the deal and is refusing to permit a continuous civilian presence in the town,” said Smotrich.

On Monday, residents of Evyatar reached a deal with the Defense Ministry aimed at avoiding the community’s demolition.

The 53 families now living at the outpost town located near the Tapuah Junction agreed to voluntarily evacuate, until the defense establishment can verify that the land in question is not privately owned.

The deal was reached following negotiations between Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina), and settlement leaders, including Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gave his blessing to the deal.

Under the deal agreed to by residents of the Evyatar outpost, the residents agreed to leave the town by the end of the week, thus avoiding a complex eviction operation – one which security officials feared could lead to violence.

In exchange, the government will maintain a presence at the site, and has vowed not to demolish the homes and other structures erected at Evyatar.

Initially, the town will be used to house IDF soldiers. Later this summer, the town will be converted into a Hesder yeshiva.

Residents may also be allowed back to resettle the town, if security officials conclude that the land used is not privately owned Arab property.

As part of the arrangement, the Defense Ministry has committed to instruct the Civil Administration to complete its surveying of the land in question within the next six months.

If it is verified as not being privately owned, it will be declared state land and the town of Evyatar will be formally established.

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