Israeli settlers who built an illegal outpost near Beita in the occupied West Bank have left the site following a compromise offered to them by the Israeli government, which could see them return to the area.
According to a statement on Wednesday by the Samaria Regional Council which represents Jewish settlements in the north of the occupied West Bank, the outpost's structures will not be demolished, but rather transformed into a base for the Israeli military.
According to Al Jazeera, "The Israeli media reported Naftali Bennett, Israel's new prime minister and a staunch supporter of illegal settlements, offered the settlers a deal – the state would ascertain whether the land can be classified as "state land" and if yes – the conclusion the state is expected to arrive at – it would be handed over to the settlers even though it lies in Palestinian villages."
The Eviatar outpost was erected in May by a group of more than 50 Israeli settler families, under the protection of the Israeli military. They successfully occupied the mountaintop of Jabal Sabih and dozens of acres of land around it on the outskirts of Beita.
Daily protests have been held against the outpost during which five Palestinian protesters, including two teenagers, 16-year-old Mohammed Hamayel and 17-year-old Ahmed Bani Shamsa, have been killed. The two were reportedly school friends and were some of the hundreds of Beita's youth who participated in the protests regularly.
Hundred more Palestinians from Beita and the surrounding villages have been injured by Israeli forces during the protests, a large number with live ammunition.
Anti-settlement group Peace Now said in a statement that: "Politically, this agreement means that the new government doesn't want to confront even a small (albeit loud and forceful) minority. Settlers can still do as they please."
Meanwhile, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, tweeted Wednesday that the Eviatar deal was "an important achievement" for Israel while praising the settlers as "pioneers" devoted to Zionism.
Over half a million Israelis live in such Jews-only settlements built on stolen Palestinian territory which has been designated for an independent Palestinian state by the international community. Successive Israeli governments, however, have made this impossible through the decades' long policy of land grab and de facto annexation of Palestinian territory.
All Israeli settlements and outposts are illegal under international law, however, only outposts are deemed illegal by Israel.