Edelstein: Most Likud ministers would back rebuilding Homesh

Diaspora affairs minister responds to suspected desecration by Palestinians of books left in a Homesh yeshiva.

Homesh march 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Homesh march 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
A majority of Likud ministers would support reestablishing the Jewish community of Homesh in northern Samaria, which was evacuated during the unilateral disengagement, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said Thursday. Edelstein, the only Likud minister who lives in the West Bank, was responding to the suspected desecration by Palestinians of Jewish holy books in a yeshiva erected by right-wing activists in the ruins of Homesh. The activists said that they left the yeshiva for several hours a few days ago, and upon returning, found that the holy ark had been taken out and books that were inside had been torn and torched. "Had there been normal buildings and security there, this horrible incident with the Torah books would not have happened," Edelstein said. "Many of my colleagues agree, and we will work together to reestablish Homesh by doing whatever we can in the cabinet and the Knesset. When the unnecessary argument [with the US] over building in Judea and Samaria ends, and I hope it will soon, construction will be allowed in Homesh to accommodate the yeshiva and the basic security needs." Edelstein, who is in charge of Israel's public relations strategy, said that based on his experience talking to top American officials, when explained properly, the Americans would understand that building inside existing settlements did not endanger a future peace agreement. He included Homesh in that category, even though it does not currently exist, because unlike the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza, it remained under IDF control after Israel dismantled it. After initial construction for a yeshiva and security needs, Edelstein said he hoped former residents of Homesh would be able to return. He recalled that the reason former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon included Homesh and three other northern Samarian communities in the disengagement was to show that unilateral withdrawals would continue, but that this was no longer a possibility. "The disengagement totally failed, so the raison d'etre for removing Homesh is gone," Edelstein said. "There won't be other unilateral steps, so if yeshiva boys want to study in Homesh, there is no reason why not."