Memorial dedication of Israeli communities uprooted from Gaza.
(photo credit: COURTESY KNESSET SPEAKER'S OFFICE)
The Knesset dedicated a monument Monday in memory of Israeli settler communities uprooted from Gaza under a 2005 unilateral disengagement, going ahead with the ceremony despite protests from Peace Now.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told the gathering “it is appropriate for the Knesset, which made the decision on the matter, to remember and remind visitors of the towns in Gush Katif and northern Samaria,” evacuated under the plan.
Ahead of the dedication, Edelstein met with representatives of the former Gaza communities.
Edelstein, who had opposed the pullout, said that “in a democracy, the majority decides, but that doesn’t mean it made the right decision.”
The monument is a miniature of a sculpture made in memory of Gush Katif, which depicts a palm tree growing out of a Star of David, engraved with the names of the 21 settlements that were removed.
Sculptor Aharon Shabo said the piece represents the trauma of the disengagement and the ability to continue to grow, in spite of it.
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer wrote a letter to Knesset Legal Advisor Eyal Yinon on Monday to protest the monument’s installation.
Oppenheimer said there were only two other memorials in the Knesset, for the Holocaust and victims of terrorist attacks, but that none had been erected to mark other events many Israelis may see as at least equally traumatic to the evacuation of Gush Katif.
“Difficult and traumatic events in the history of the Jewish People and State of Israel did not receive permanent memorials in the Knesset; not Rabin’s assassination, not the Yom Kippur War, not the evacuation of Yamit [in Sinai] and not the massacre in Kfar Kassem,” Oppenheimer wrote.
“Therefore, I ask you to examine if it is within the Knesset Speaker’s authority to decide to put a permanent monument in the Knesset, what is its status and can it be removed.”
Oppenheimer added that, “with all the pain and understanding of the pain of the evacuees, installing a permanent monument to one specific and controversial political event (that did not include loss of life) is not an appropriate act and raises suspicions that the Knesset Speaker, MK Yuli Edelstein, treats the House of Representatives like his private home.”
Yinon replied that there were no legal problems with the monument, and that the structure at 40 centimeters in height was easily removable, and thus cannot be regarded as permanent. He said Edelstein had deliberately opted for a smaller memorial over a proposed larger version.
“The installed miniature does not suggest a stance on the disengagement plan. Even those who support it do not deny the fact that the evacuation of the towns was a national historic event, so there is no reason not to mark it in the way the Knesset Speaker decided to, using his inherent authority,” Yinon said in a written response.
Alluding to the controversy at the dedication ceremony, Edelstein said: “I did not have any political intentions, and as long as I am Knesset Speaker, it will remain here.”