Netanyahu, Gantz clash over evacuation of Samaria outpost

Evacuation of a new settlement will likely strain the new governing coalition a day after Bennett is sworn in.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz clashed over IDF plans to evacuate the illegal outpost of Evyatar.

Located near the Tapuach Junction in northern Samaria, the unauthorized outpost was first launched in 2013 following the murder of Evyatar Borovsky. The outpost was named after Borovsky, a father of five. Since then, it has been demolished by the IDF only to be rebuilt by Jewish settlers.

Gantz has sought to demolish more structures that were put up in the past month after a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed Yehuda Guetta at the Tapuach Junction last month.

Reports say 47 families are currently living in Evyatar and 75 more are interested in moving in.

In a letter to Gantz, Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff Asher Ohayon argued that the sensitive issue of evacuating Evyatar required the approval of the Prime Minister’s Office, and suggested that the outpost could potentially be legalized retroactively. Ohayon has maintained that the legal status of the land where the outpost is located is unclear.

But Gantz and the Civil Administration, which are responsible for authorizing construction in Judea and Samaria, rebuffed Netanyahu, saying that the 40 buildings in Evyatar were set up “illegally without the necessary permits” and that “enforcement will be carried out in accordance with the proper procedures and will be subject to operational considerations.”

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The evacuation, currently scheduled for Monday, will put an immediate strain on the new Israeli government which is expected to be sworn in the day before. Prime Minister-Designate Naftali Bennett is former director-general of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of the Settler Movement. The right-wing parties of Yemina, New Hope and Israel Beiteinu support settlements, while left-wing coalition partners Meretz, Labor and the Arab Ra’am party oppose them. The Blue and White party will support Gantz, its leader, on the issue and Yesh Atid is expected to as well.

Media reports indicate that after the new government is sworn in, Netanyahu will oppose the evacuation from the opposition in order to embarrass Bennett.