Knesset rejects legalization of Homesh yeshiva, West Bank outposts

A march is scheduled to the hilltop, that is set to begin at about 1:30 p.m. from the nearby Shavei Shomron settlement where Yehuda Dimentman lived. 

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz is seen visiting the family of Yehuda Dimentman in Mevaseret Zion, where they are sitting shiva, on December 22, 2021. (photo credit: Berle Crombie )
Defense Minister Benny Gantz is seen visiting the family of Yehuda Dimentman in Mevaseret Zion, where they are sitting shiva, on December 22, 2021.
(photo credit: Berle Crombie )

The Knesset struck down by a 50-59 vote a declaration to legalize the Homesh Yeshiva along with some 70 West Bank outposts.

The declaration, which measures the Knesset’s political will, is symbolic, and has no immediate legislative value.

It had asked that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “decisively prevent the evacuation of the Homesh Yeshiva, authorize it and to allow its students to study and live there.”

This particular vote comes amid an emotional plea by the family of terror victim Yehuda Dimentman, 25, for the government to authorize the yeshiva.

For over 15 years the seminary has existed illegally at the site of the former Homesh settlement, which was one of four in northern Samaria settlements destroyed in 2005 as part of the Disengagement plan.

 Yehuda Dimentman, killed by Palestinian terrorists at Homesh, is seen with his wife and child. (credit: Courtesy the Dimentman family) Yehuda Dimentman, killed by Palestinian terrorists at Homesh, is seen with his wife and child. (credit: Courtesy the Dimentman family)

Dimentman had been a student at the yeshiva. He was killed by Palestinian gunmen as he left the seminary last Thursday.

The Knesset declaration that was voted down stated that the evacuation of the yeshiva would be an additional act of injustice on top of the initial destruction of that community. Such a step, it said, “would be a prize to terror and a serious retreat from territory in the Land of Israel.”

The Dimentman family has warned that as soon as the seven-day mourning period is over, the IDF plans to permanently evacuate the yeshiva. The army has already set up a temporary base at the site. The yeshiva has also been warned that a special team has already been created in the Justice Ministry and within the security forces to plan and execute the evacuation, with a renewed emphasis on enforcing the Disengagement Law.

That law makes it illegal for Israeli citizens to be at the site of the four northern Samaria settlements.

Border Police briefly detained Homesh Yeshiva head Rabbi Elishama Cohen, but he was released after Samaria Council head Yossi Dagan intervened. Cohen is now expected to be questioned by police next week.

Some 100 rabbis issued a call on Wednesday for the government to prevent the destruction of the Homesh Yeshiva. A march is scheduled to the hilltop starting at about 1:30 p.m. from the nearby Shavei Shomron settlement where Dimentman lived.

Dimentman’s family, which includes parents, 11 siblings, a widow, Ethia, and a toddler son, David, have been sitting shiva in Mevaseret Zion.

They have asked every politician who has visited to authorize the yeshiva in Yehuda’s name and to allow for a settlement to be rebuilt there.

On Wednesday, the family personally spoke with Defense Minister Benny Gantz about authorizing the yeshiva, when he paid a shiva call.

MK Yuli Edelstein asked the Knesset for permission to reconvene the Homesh First Caucus, first created in the aftermath of the initial 2005 Disengagement to focus on rescinding the destruction of those four communities.

The Right would like to see all the reconstruction of both the four Samaria settlements and the 21 that were destroyed that summer in Gaza.

But given that the IDF pulled out of Gaza, it is only feasible to rebuild the four northern Samaria settlements. The other three settlements – Sa-Nur, Gadim and Kadim – were built on state land.

Homesh, however, was built on private Palestinian property that belongs to the Palestinian village of Burqa. The High Court of Justice has upheld the rights of Palestinians to farm their land on that hilltop.

Homesh is not formally considered to be one of the 70 outposts, which the Right seeks separately to authorize. Bennett has supported the authorization of the outposts, but a number of parties in his coalition are opposed to the move.

The United States and the international community are also opposed to the legalization of outposts.