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Deal reportedly close on peaceful Ulpana evacuation

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Representatives of the Israeli government and the residents of the Ulpana neighborhood reportedly are close to a deal in which the families would leave voluntarily.

The chief rabbi of Beit El, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, told the Israeli media that a deal is nearing completion. The two sides met Monday and were set to meet again Tuesday.

Melamed told Ynet that the deal on the table includes "significant achievements" for settlers.

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in September that at least five apartment buildings in the neighborhood bordering Beit El should be razed, siding with a lawsuit filed by Palestinians who said they owned the land. A deadline of July 1 is set for the evacuation.

Under the terms of the agreement reported in Israeli media, 10 apartment buildings each housing 30 families will be built in Beit El on the grounds of a Border Guard base at the entrance to the settlement. In addition, the government reportedly will ask Israel’s Supreme Court for a three-month postponement of the eviction in order to remove the five buildings intact to land that is not contested.

Melamed in a public letter issue last week urged a “decisive struggle” against the evacuation of the five apartment buildings. The rabbi called for "dedication and sacrifice," and said the struggle should consist of dialogue as well as protest.

During the meeting at Melamed’s home in Beit El, the cars of Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and the director-general of the Amana housing company, Ze’ev Hever, were vandalized.

Also Monday, Israeli police preparing for the Ulpana evacuation participated in a large-scale drill.

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