Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has sought to make the repeal of the 2005 Disengagement Law as it applies to the West Bank’s northern Samaria official and authorize the Homesh yeshiva.
The Knesset in March had approved the law which lifts the ban on the entry of Israelis onto the sites of the four northern Samaria settlements destroyed after the Gaza pullout in 2005; Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim.
On Wednesday, Gallant ordered the head of the IDF’s Central Command Yehuda Fox to sign an order making it official that Israelis can enter those sites.
The Biden administration had vigorously opposed the repeal, explaining that it violated past understandings between the US and Israel, including former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s pledge to execute the Disengagement Plan.
The Israeli Right has viewed the Disengagement Law repeal in northern Samaria as a first step toward rebuilding the four destroyed settlements which are located deep within the West Bank.
“We are correcting a historical injustice.”Danny Danon
“We are correcting a historical injustice,” MK Danny Danon (Likud) said upon hearing of Gallant’s decision.
To appease the US, which had taken the unusual step of summoning Israel’s Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised in March that the four destroyed settlements would not be rebuilt.
Gallant, however, together with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich now seeks to authorize the Homesh yeshiva by relocating it to a small parcel of state land on the Homesh hilltop.
The move comes amid a court case filed by the left-wing group Yesh Din in 2019 to force the state to evacuate the illegal modular yeshiva, a remnant of the legal permanent one which had once been housed in the former Homesh settlement.
What is the controversy surrounding the Homesh settlement?
The original Homesh settlement had been built on private Palestinian land that belonged to Palestinians from the nearby village of Burqa. The High Court of Justice in 2013 granted the Palestinians access to their farmlands on the Homesh hilltop.
Yesh Din had argued that the presence of the Homesh yeshiva prevented Palestinians from farming their land and often lead to violent altercations.
Gallant is among those who believe, however, that there are plots of state land on the hilltop on which a yeshiva could be legalized now that the Disengagement Law has been repealed.
Yesh Din has argued that the land in question is survey land and has yet to be classified as state land. Such a move would not advance the authorization of the yeshiva, it said.
Gallant knows that as long as the yeshiva is on the hilltop Palestinians will not be able to access their lands, Yesh Din said.
Gallant's actions are providing a “reward and incentive for criminals and is a violation of international law,” Yesh Din said.
“Gallant and Smotrich's decision to legalize the violent outpost in the West Bank and turn it into a settlement deep in the West Bank, north of Nablus, is another step [toward] annexation.”Peace Now
The left-wing group Peace Now said that “Gallant and Smotrich's decision to legalize the violent outpost in the West Bank and turn it into a settlement deep in the West Bank, north of Nablus, is another step [toward] annexation.”
“The promotion and establishment of settlements involve continued military control over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians. As long as this situation continues and deepens, no legal coup will destroy democracy in Israel. This is because democracy cannot exist in such a situation,” Peace Now stated.