Meretz won’t let Bennett authorize Evyatar outpost, Minister Frej warns

The Meretz Party will block attempts to legalize the settler outpost of Evyatar in the West Bank, Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej said on Monday.

View of the Illegal Evyatar outpost, in northern West Bank, on June 16, 2021.  (photo credit: SRAYA DIAMANT/FLASH90)
View of the Illegal Evyatar outpost, in northern West Bank, on June 16, 2021.
(photo credit: SRAYA DIAMANT/FLASH90)

Meretz will block the legalization of the West Bank’s Evyatar outpost, Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej told Israel Radio on Monday.

“We won’t allow [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett’s government to be more right-wing than [former prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s government was,” he said, adding that this applied to both settler violence and the creation of outposts.

This government is not supposed to be creating stumbling blocks for an eventual peace process, Frej said.

“The government won’t create an outpost or a yeshiva at Evyatar,” he said, referring to a hilltop near Tapuah junction in Samaria.

In the last month of the Netanyahu government, some 50 families were able to move into makeshift homes on the hilltop, eight years after a failed attempt to establish a new community there in the wake of the murder of 31-year-old Evyatar Borovsky, who was killed in a terrorist attack at the junction.

Meretz MK Issawi Frej (credit: WIKIMEDIA)Meretz MK Issawi Frej (credit: WIKIMEDIA)

This May, Yehuda Guetta, 19, was killed in a terrorist attack at Tapuah junction. His death sparked a second attempt to build an outpost there.

Netanyahu took no action against the outpost, instead calling for its legalization.

Bennett avoided a forced and potentially violent evacuation of the families by striking a deal by which the settlers voluntarily left the hilltop.

In exchange, the government agreed to leave the buildings intact. It also agreed that the site could eventually become a legalized settlement, beginning with the construction of a yeshiva, should it be determined that there was enough state land on the hilltop to allow for a viable Jewish community.

In an interview with Arutz 7, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) said Frej was not calling the shots. His declaration “is meaningless,” she said.

There is an agreement that both Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz have signed for the authorization of Evyatar, Shaked said, adding that Gantz has stood by his word and conducted an immediate land survey, the results of which he received only this week.

“I believe that the defense minister and the prime minister will advance the [Evyatar] deal precisely as was agreed upon,” she said.

The government would not fall apart over Evyatar, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman told reporters in the Knesset on Monday.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan dismissed his words.

“The extreme Left can shout, but a yeshiva in Evyatar will be created,” he said.

“If the extreme Left is opposed to Evyatar and settlement expansion, it’s a sign that we are doing the right thing,” Dagan said. “The establishment of the yeshiva in Evyatar is the right thing for the State of Israel.”