Settlers at an illegal West Bank outpost on Thursday officially signed a government deal to evacuate the illegal outpost, with residents set to leave until 4pm on Friday.
It was initially announced on Wednesday the settlers would vacate the Eviatar outpost near Nablus by the end of the week to prevent a forceful evacuation, as part of a compromise presented by the government.
The deal was officially signed on a night between Wednesday and Thursday between government representatives and settlers' legal advisers, including Rabbi Elyakim Lebanon, Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan and Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Sharaf of the Nahala settlement movement.
Under the terms of the deal, the settlers will leave the site and the ownership of the land will be determined within six months. The government in return agreed to leave intact the stone structures already erected and deploy IDF troops to protect the site.
Article 6 of the agreement appears to be the most important section for the residents because it permits civic presence at the outpost.
According to the agreement, if the land has no private Palestinian ownership, the settlers will be allowed to open a yeshiva (religious seminary) at the hilltop location. Residents of the neighboring Palestinian village of Beita said some of the land was indeed owned by Palestinians but have not provided any proof.
In addition, the agreement states that following the completion of the planning procedures, the state will work to establish a legal settlement at the site.
The deal was signed and approved by Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo, who released a statement detailing the agreement.
Dagan welcomed the signing of the deal but added that it was a difficult step to take for both parties. "Out of this challenge we will emerge stronger in Eviatar. The outline agreed upon is not the outline of our dreams but each side comes towards the other for the unity of Israel in these difficult days of division among the people. This agreement obliges us to not take simple steps."
The agreement reached after days of negotiations was proposed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Gantz, who was also defense minister in the previous government, had ordered the outpost be removed but was blocked by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.