The Compromise At Evyatar

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by Hugh Fitzgerald

The Biden Administration now includes a bunch of what Samuel Beckett, of all people, called “Mr. Buttinskys.” Those buttinskys have been putting pressure on European countries to take back those of their Muslim citizens who had gone off to join ISIS, and now, pretty please, they promise to be good, if only they will be allowed to return. Those countries say no; the Biden Administration tells them to say yes. What business is it of the United States if European countries have the good sense to protect their own people by refusing to allow ISIS supporters to come back? These Jihadis did not go off to summer camp; they knowingly joined a terror state, one where Yazidi girls were raped and their families murdered, where Christians were tortured and killed by Muslim fanatics, propelled by the determination to to destroy the Infidels wherever they might be found. Yet here is the Biden Administration telling the Europeans to put their own citizens in mortal peril by letting those ISIS supporters back in. Where do those Bidenites get off?

And now the Bidenites are trying to tell Israel what it must do about the West Bank outpost of Evyatar, and condemning Jerusalem for not at once closing it down. The latest on this story is here: “‘Illegal even under Israeli law’: US pans establishment of new Evyatar outpost,” by Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, June 30, 2021:

The US State Department on Wednesday condemned the new West Bank outpost of Evyatar, which the Israeli government has agreed to keep intact for now despite its illegal establishment.

“We believe it is critical to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance equal measures of freedom, security and prosperity and a negotiated two-state solution. This certainly includes establishing new outposts which are illegal even under Israeli law,” a State Department spokesperson said when asked for comment on Evyatar.

If Israel had refrained from taking “unilateral steps” that according to much of the world only “exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance equal measures of freedom, security, and properity, yada, yada,” then no settlements in the West Bank would ever have been established and a half-million Israelis would not now be living in the West Bank, where their presence increases the Jewish state’s deterrence, and makes war less, not more likely, between Israel and the Palestinians.

The first line of the prepared response is one that has been reiterated by the Biden administration for months when asked to comment on settlement building, home demolitions and evictions by Israel, as well as incitement and payments to terrorists by Palestinians.

A source familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel that the US has been monitoring Evyatar since its establishment in late April and had been hoping the government would take steps to remove it, given that the Defense Ministry had acknowledged that it was built without the proper permits on land that does not belong to the state.

It is not true that the land on which Evyatar is built “does not belong to the state.” It is precisely that liminal question that the Israeli government, after investigation, will answer, and if it is determined to be not privately owned, but “state or waste land,” then the Defense Department will decide if it wishes to allow a settlement to be built on it.

The Israeli impression, based on recent talks with the Biden administration, is that the US recognizes that it cannot push Jerusalem to take major steps vis-à-vis the Palestinians, which would risk collapsing the politically diverse coalition, Israeli officials told The Times of Israel this week.

But apparently it’s okay to put pressure on Israel to close down the Evyatar outpost, because it doesn’t qualify as a “major step.” Once Israel starts allowing Washington to decide its policy on Evyatar, a new outpost which could in time grow into a settlement, it will surrender control over decisions about other possible outposts, and about the enlargement of existing settlements. For Israel these are potentially matters of life and death, and the Americans have no business butting in.

The Biden administration is willing to give new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett some time before making asks in the Palestinian arena, but it’s not willing to accept complete paralysis and will speak out clearly against unilateral moves, a source said.

So Washington is generously going “to give Prime Minister Bennett” a little time to get settled before making “asks,” that is, demands that will not be to his liking. To refrain from bullying a loyal and permanently imperiled ally does not constitute “paralysis,” but rather, wise statecraft. And the “unilateral moves” which the Biden Administration apparently deplores are being made by Israel n the West Bank, where – let us remind the Bidenites yet again – all the territory east of the river Jordan to the Mediterranean was always intended to become, according to the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, part of the Jewish National Home.

Earlier Wednesday, residents of Evyatar gave their final approval to a reported deal with the government that will see them move off the West Bank hilltop before the weekend, but leave some of the outpost intact.

According to the Samaria Regional Council, the deal will see the state reconsider the status of the outpost’s land with a view to making it legal for a future settlement, after “it is proved that Evyatar is not situated on private land.”…

The regional council said that under the deal, Evyatar’s residents will leave but its structures won’t be demolished, with the Israel Defense Forces instead immediately transforming the outpost into a makeshift army post. Later on, a new yeshiva will be established there.

No demolishment of structures, but they will become part of a “makeshift” army post. And no matter what is decided about the legality, and suitability, of a settlement, the government has committed to building a permanent yeshiva at the spot.

Meanwhile, authorities will examine the legal status of the land. Should the land eventually be approved for use by the settlers, they would be able to move back to the community, according to the statement.

This is the compromise, hammered out between the settlers – represented by the Samaria Regional Council – and the government:

The settlers will vacate, for now, the outpost they had created with 50 mobile homes and some other structures. What has been built at Evyatar will be transformed into an army post. The government will study the legal status of the land – is it privately owned, by Jews or Arabs, or will it be found to be, as is most likely, “state or waste land” on which, according to Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine, Jews are not only allowed, but “encouraged,” to settle“ (“encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land”). If it is legal to build at Evyatar, then the Defense Department may still withhold its approval, if such a settlement is deemed inimical to Israeli security.

Bennett, a former director of the Yesha council settler lobby who now leads the right-wing Yamina party and the government, was reported Sunday to be eager to avoid the spectacle of the outpost being removed under his leadership, especially given the current political situation in which the coalition is struggling to maintain a majority in the Knesset.

While Bennett is reported to have not wanted to remove the settlers forcibly, and thereby antagonize those on the right in his coalition, it is equally plausible that he supports the outpost, but finds it useful to pretend to others, including members of the left-wing Meretz Party, who are part of his coalition, and the Biden people, that he is refraining from closing the outpost now only in order to hold his coalition together, but that he intends to close it at the earliest possible opportunity.

The prime minister’s position evidently won the day, despite Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the security establishment’s initial insistence that the outpost be removed, given the strain it causes on the IDF, which will now be forced to secure the community.

New outposts, with few inhabitants, cannot defend themselves and need IDF protection from terrorists and other marauding Arabs. But as the settlers grow in number, they become better able to defend themselves and the need for the IDF lessens. Still, had the Evyatar settlers, of whom there are several dozen families, been allowed to stay, it would have meant one more headache for the IDF to deal with, which it apparently prefers not to take upon itself. That’s why Defense Minister Gantz and others in the security establishment at first were in favor of removing the outpost. But seeing the passions this outpost arises among not just the settlers at Evyatar but at other Jewish settlements nearby, and recognizing, too, that permanently closing down the outpost sends the wrong message to the Arabs, some may now think the extra burden of protecting the outpost as it grows is worth it.

The Solomonic decision is this: all the settlers will agree to withdraw from Evyatar – they came in 50 mobile homes – in order to await the government’s verdict on the land. If the land on which Evyatar is to be built turns out to be “state or waste land,” Israelis have a perfect right (see, again, Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine) to settle on it. But the final word is that of the Defense Department, that can permit or withhold permission for any proposed settlement.

The international community regards all Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal but Israeli law differentiates between settlements permitted by the Defense Ministry and outposts established without permission, often by ideologically motivated youths. Many settlements started life as illegal outposts and only gained retroactive government approval after reaching a critical mass of residents.

And that is what the settlers are hoping will happen with Evyatar. They would like the Defense Department, albeit reluctantly, to allow a settlement to be established. They then hope through natural population growth to lessen their dependence on the IDF for protection, and to gradually be accepted by those who initially were doubtful. But for now, they are awaiting the government’s initial verdict: is the outpost on land that Israelis have a right to settle on? And if so, will the Defense Department withhold or grant its approval for the settlement to be built?

The outpost is located on land south of Nablus that Palestinians say had historically been part of the Palestinian villages of Beita, Kablan and Yitma, though residents of those towns have been barred access for decades over what the IDF has said were security reasons. The land went uncultivated, opening it up for confiscation by the state for public use, based on West Bank property laws. Before that can happen though, the Civil Administration is required to survey the land to confirm its status, a step that Evyatar settlers did not wait for before moving in. They had no doubt hoped to establish “facts on the ground” but the government stepped in before they could do so.

Land that has lain uncultivated for a long time can be confiscated by the state for public use, including “close settlement by Jews on the land.”

The outpost has grown quickly over the last two months, swelling to roughly 50 mobile homes and other makeshift structures housing dozens of families. Its Facebook page boasts that Evyatar prevents contiguity between the surrounding Palestinian villages while connecting the Israeli settlement of Tapuah to the Za’atara Junction and Migdalim settlement.

The population further ballooned this week as far right-wing youths set up camp at the site and prepared to resist the looming evacuation.

It didn’t come to a forcible evacuation. Those would-be settlers, and those tendentiously identified as “far-right-wing youths” agreed to leave peacefully. The government, for its part, agreed not to take down any of the makeshift structures that had been built, and further agreed that, whatever the decision as to the legality of building a settlement at Evyatar, and whatever the Defense Department then decides to permit, it will at least allow the building of a yeshiva at the spot.

That’s a Solomonic decision, reached without — in fact despite – those Bidenite Mr. Buttinskys. Perhaps they will learn to leave the Israelis to make their own decisions about what settlements are legal and, if found legal, which ones the Defense Department wishes to approve, and which to prevent.

First published in Jihad Watch.

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