US ‘deeply troubled’ by Homesh yeshiva reopening

The new Homesh Yeshiva building was built in the land that was included in the disengagement repealment bill.

 Construction is seen being done on the Homesh outpost in the West Bank, on May 29, 2023. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Construction is seen being done on the Homesh outpost in the West Bank, on May 29, 2023.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

The State Department spoke out against the reopening of the Homesh Yeshiva in a new, “permanent” site in the settlement on Monday.

“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s recent order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Washington noted that the return to the Northern Samaria town, from which Israel withdrew in 2005, together with Gaza, is “inconsistent with both former Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon’s written commitment to the Bush Administration in 2004 and the current Israeli government’s commitments to the Biden Administration.”

“The expansion of settlements undermines the geographic viability of a two-state solution, exacerbates tensions, and further harms trust between the parties,” the State Department said. “This is consistent with the views of previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. We regularly engage with Israeli officials on this issue and will continue to do so.”

The understandings between Sharon and Bush came in an exchange of letters between the leaders. The Obama administration, in which US President Joe Biden was vice president, rejected in 2011 the validity and content of those letters, which allowed for the continued existence of major Israeli settlement blocs.

 Students build the new Homesh Yeshiva building in northern Samaria. (credit: ROI HADI)
Students build the new Homesh Yeshiva building in northern Samaria. (credit: ROI HADI)

Homesh Yeshiva students built a permanent building for the yeshiva in the West Bank on Sunday night, the Samaria Regional Council announced on Monday morning, two months after the Knesset passed the Disengagement Repeal Law to legalize a return to some of areas of Northern Samaria.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered IDF Central Command head Yehuda Fuchs to sign an order earlier this month, officially allowing Israelis enter Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan installed a mezuzah by the yeshiva’s door on Monday, saying that it was a "historical moment” that “fixed not only a personal injustice towards those expelled [from Homesh] but to all of the people of Israel.”

Though the yeshiva’s current structures are modular buildings, the council said that they will be its “permanent home.”

The new location is “on state-owned land, a few hundred meters from where it was previously, in order to arrange its legal status,” the council stated.

The move was met with mixed reactions

NGO Yesh Din, which represents the Palestinians who claim the land on which the yeshiva previously stood, said that “moving the yeshiva in Homesh makes the crime worse.

“The new location of the yeshiva still does not allow the Palestinian landowners access to their land and continues their dispossession from their land,” the organization stated. “Instead of immediately evacuating the outpost, Israel is giving a prize to trespassing criminals.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said the reopening of the yeshiva “symbolized the move from a destructive government to construction and development of the entire State of Israel.”

Settlements Minister Orit Struck said the reopening of the Homesh Yeshiva symbolized that this government was keeping its promises to its voters.

“We struggled and we did it...If you believe that it can be ruined, believe that it can be fixed,” she said.

Labor leader Merav Michaeli MK said Gallant gave “a VIP card to the deranged settlers from Homesh and their destructive whims is at the expense of Israel's security, its future and its democracy. These are the priorities of this government.”

Michaeli referred to Gallant’s sacking by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his call to slow down the judicial reform process and Netanyahu’s reversal weeks later.

“Gallant proved today that he does not care about the majority of the people and the hundreds of thousands who supported him after he was ‘fired.’ He cares about the anarchist settlers and Netanyahu's interests,” she stated.

Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli construction at the Homesh outpost

The Palestinian Authority condemned the construction of the new building at the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank and called on the US administration and the international community to intervene.

PA presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudaineh said that “all settlements built on the land of the State of Palestine, including the Homesh settlement, are illegal.”

Abu Rudeineh said the Israeli government’s decision to allow settlers to return to the Homesh “is condemned and rejected.” He pointed out that all United Nations resolutions, including Resolution 2334, “clearly confirmed that all settlements in the Palestinian territories, including [eastern Jerusalem], violate international law, and must be removed.”

The PA official described the return of the settlers to Homesh as “a challenge to the international community, especially the US administration.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also condemned the return of the settlers to Homesh, saying it and other Israeli actions “fall within the framework of a silent and creeping annexation of the occupied West Bank, under the supervision and support of the Israeli government.”

The ministry said the Palestinians are following up on Israel’s actions with the International Criminal Court.