Leaders of pro-Israel groups in Judea and Samaria announced their plans to establish ten new communities while US President Joe Biden is in Israel in July. The move would embarrass the coalition government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and, according to some of the organizers, is intended as retaliation for his failure to implement his side of the Evyatar Agreement.
The agreement was made with a group of 50 Jewish families who established a community in Evyatar, Samaria in May 2021. Anti-Israel left-wing NGOs brought cases in Israeli courts challenging the legal status of the land. A compromise was approved by former Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in February and in July, the Jews agreed to vacate the community until the legal battle is settled on the condition that the outpost’s structures are to remain intact and the Jews may return if the land is subsequently deemed state-owned.
A yeshiva was established at the site after a land survey showed the outpost was built on state-owned lands but the Jewish families maintain that according to their agreement with the government, the results of the survey should have allowed them to return to their homes.
“The survey was completed months ago and ever since we’ve been strung along,” Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, said in a statement. “This behavior doesn’t even meet the standards of this government. Let me say loud and clear, don’t try us. This government will get the boot for violating the Evyatar agreement
“We are weighing establishing 10 Evyatars at night, during Biden’s visit,” senior settlement officials told Israel Hayom. The Nahala movement said it has already begun preparing groups and touring potential sites ahead of the planned operation, which it said was slated to take place on July 20.
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev on Monday responded to the report, saying such an initiative would be akin to a “price tag attack against the State of Israel, not the government. Those who aim to embarrass the US president in such a manner – a great friend of ours who has contributed and continues to contribute a great deal to our security – during his visit here will cause serious damage to Israel. We are not in the [pre-state] days of tower and stockade, and messianic extortionist acts of this sort aren’t just illegal and inflict heavy damage in the international arena, but will also impair the mission of the IDF and Israel Police to provide security, as they will be forced to divert forces and resources to contend with these outlaws.”
It is already clear that Biden will use his visit to Israel to strengthen the Palestinians and their efforts to lay claim to Jerusalem. He is planning on visiting Palestinian officials in a hospital in the eastern section of Israel’s capital unaccompanied by Israeli officials. His state department is also working to establish a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem instead of in Ramallah where the.a Palestinian Authority is based.
Daniella Weiss, General Director of Nachala Settlement Movement, denied that the move was intended to embarrass the Israeli government.
“Biden originally planned to come to Israel in June but two days ago, they announced they were delaying it one month to allow the political situation in Israel to work itself out,” Weiss said. “We had already planned to establish these communities and entirely by chance, he moved the date of his visit to the date we had planned.”
She emphasized that not only were the communities not in reaction to Biden but they were also not intended to embarrass the Bennett government.
“We do not establish communities out of anger or for revenge, God forbid,” Weiss told Israel365 News. “We are not a political movement. We settle the land simply for the glory of God and because in the Torah he commanded us to live in the land.”
Weiss cited the Rambam (Maimonides) who wrote that it is forbidden to leave land in Israel barren and unsettled as the nations, who have no compunctions against theft or other crimes, will take advantage and occupy land, creating false claims of ownership.
“This really has nothing to do with Biden,” Weiss said. “Jews are settling the land of Israel. It is as simple as that.”
Weiss has worked to settle the land for several decades but this operation brought with it a surprise.
“So many people signed up to leave their homes and establish new communities,” Weiss said. “They are from every age, every part of Israeli society. Starting a new community, especially when the government does not do its job of supporting them, is a daunting task requiring great courage and commitment. They are not going to be moving into established cities with infrastructure. But no one asked about the living conditions.”
“Several major rabbis have given us their blessings,“ Weiss said. “After what we saw on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), we realized that there is a renewed wave among Israelis of love for Israel and a desire to bring about the prophecies.”