Will Israel rescind 2005 disengagement from northern Samaria?

Monday afternoon, the Bayit Yehudi faction in the Knesset is holding a debate on the issue.

By
June 19, 2017 12:45
2 minute read.
Samaria

Samaria is composed of 2,800 square kilometers of landscape, with 130,000 Jewish residents spread over it. (photo credit: SOPHIE ASHKINAZE-COLLENDER)

 
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Right-wing politicians are pushing to pass Knesset legislation that would rescind the 2005 Disengagement order in northern Samaria that led to the demolition of four settlements in that region.

A spokesman for MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi), who helped author the bill and is working on it with Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, said the Ministerial Committee for Legislation may vote on such a bill as early as this Sunday.

“There was no justification to uproot these communities,” she said, adding that there is no reason to now “leave them in ruins.”

The two politicians on Monday held a meeting in the Knesset on the subject, sponsored by Bayit Yehudi.

“Disengagement was a complete failure,” coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) said at the meeting.

Referring to the Gaza withdrawal and subsequent Hamas takeover of the Strip, he said: “We exchanged territory for terrorism.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) added: “We are here to protect our sovereignty.”

The legislative drive is part of a number of steps politicians are taking to block the US from pressuring Israel to transfer parts of Area C of the West Bank – which is under full Israeli military and civilian control – to the Palestinian Authority.


A number of recent media reports speculated that this territory, located outside of Jenin, may be one of the sections of Area C that the Trump Administration would want transferred to Area A.

Last week, MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) told Army Radio that Israel plans to allow five Palestinian cities to expand into Area C, including Jenin.

This particular legislative drive regarding northern Samaria began last year while former US president Barack Obama was still in office, and is the latest in a number of such drives over the last 12 years. In 2008, former MK Arye Eldad filed a similar bill with the support of 42 parliamentarians.

Israel did not withdraw from northern Samaria as it did from Gaza in 2005. Instead, it placed the territory of those four northern settlements – Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim – under military control and banned Israeli civilians from entering the area except with special permission, which is rarely granted.

Although the politicians and Samaria Regional Council want to rebuild those four communities, this legislation does not authorize such building.

Rather, it seeks to overturn the ban on Israeli civilians entering that area, even though the explanation attached to the bill does state that the goal is to rebuild those four settlements.

It would be difficult to reconstruct Homesh in its exact location because it was built on private Palestinian property. The High Court of Justice in 2013 has already ruled that the land could be farmed by Palestinians.

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