Israeli settlers to quit illegal Mount Sabih settlement

Settlers to quit illegal West Bank outpost after Israeli military agrees to take over the Palestinian land
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The agreement to leave the Givat Eviatar settlement will still allow a Jewish religious seminary to be constructed in some months' time, according to reports.
Palestinians have been using a 'night confusion' strategy against the settlement [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty]

Settlers occupying a hilltop in the West Bank have agreed with Israeli authorities to leave their wildcat outpost this week, although certain buildings will remain and be protected by Israeli troops.

The agreement will allow a Jewish religious seminary, known as a yeshiva, to be constructed at Mount Sabih, The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.

This comes following "night confusion" protests over recent weeks by Palestinians from the nearby town of Beita.

They have attempted to disrupt the lives of the settlers by shining lasers, playing drums, and setting tyres alight at their outpost.

There has not been any suggestion that these actions led to the settlers agreeing to leave the outpost, which was also considered illegal under Israeli law.

According to Israeli media, however, Israeli forces will remain at Givat Eviatar pending clarification by authorities on who "owns" the site.

The Palestinian hilltop will essentially become an Israeli military base until a decision is taken, according to the settler-led Samaria Regional Council (SRC).

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The terms of the agreement reached with the settlers mean Israel's defence ministry will investigate the area over the next six months, which lies deep in the occupied West Bank.

The intention is that land determined not to be the private property of Palestinians will be approved for illegal constructions, according to The Times of Israel.

An Israeli defence ministry official, which administers the settlements, confirmed that the Givat Eviatar families had agreed to leave their camp voluntarily by the weekend.

The agreement was slammed by left-of-centre Meretz MP Mossi Raz whose party is part of the government.

The lawmaker said to Radio 103FM: "This is simply insanity, letting terrorist criminals decide where an army base will be formed.

"These are family members of criminals who stole land, they are truly terrorists.

"I prefer the outpost to remain as is rather than this fraud that is being called a compromise – this isn't a compromise, this is capitulation."

This is not the first time the Givat Eviatar settlers reportedly agreed to leave.

On Monday, it was reported that they had reached an accord with the Israeli government, however, The Times of Israel said "questions arose" in relation to suggestions made by settlers concerning the agreement.

The hilltop settlement outpost, which is near the Palestinian city of Nablus, was established without Israeli government permits in May and is now home to more than 50 settler families.

(The New Arab, Reuters)