It appears that a confrontation between Jewish settlers and security forces will be avoided: Beit El Chief Rabbi Zalman Melamed said Monday evening that a deal on the voluntary evacuation of five homes in the settlement's Ulpana neighborhood was imminent.
Melamed, who has been negotiating with the government on behalf of the neighborhood's residents, said all activity surrounding the settlement will be frozen for the next 24 hours, adding that the agreement, if finalized, would include "significant achievements" for the settlers.
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The High Court has instructed the State to evacuate five homes in Ulpana by July 1 because they were built on private Palestinian land.
According to the agreement, 10 apartment buildings consisting of 30 units each will be built in Beit El. The buildings will be constructed on the grounds of a Border Guard base situated at the entrance to the settlement. The base will be evacuated.
A leader of the teenagers who planned to resist the evacuation said in response to the agreement, "We are very angry. If it's true – we were sold out.
"They are doing to us exactly what they did to Gush Katif (in Gaza) and Migron. We haven’t learned anything," he told Ynet Monday night.
On Sunday, dozens of youngsters equipped with hundreds of sacks of cement, iron rods, wooden boards, and mechanical equipment arrived at Ulpana. They began building barricades around the neighborhood and on top of the homes slated to be evacuated.
Rightists in Ulpana await security forces (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
The teens also set up barriers at the entrance to the neighborhood, where they remain in contact via MIRS phones. Throughout the day, some of them – wearing masks – threw rocks at soldiers who happened to be in the area and at anyone else they suspected of being involved with the evacuation.
However, Rabbi Melamed said that even if a deal is not struck, the evacuation will be non-violent. Violent resistance would taint the settlers' image in the media, the rabbi told his students.
The rabbi said he decided to reach an agreement with the government after realizing the evacuation could not be avoided.
Details of the agreement were discussed Monday during a meeting between settler representatives and senior political and military figures, including Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser and Major General Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of government activities in the territories.
Government officials confirmed that significant headway was made towards a non-violent evacuation of homes in Ulpana.
In a move meant to placate the Right following the failed vote on the settlement regulation bill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently approved the construction of 851 housing units in the West Bank – 300 for Beit El and 551 for four other settlements.
The settlement regulation bill, which attempted evade the High Court ruling by retroactively legalizing Jewish outposts, was voted down by the Knesset.