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Netanyahu faces new pressure as Israeli settlers officially given permission to return to Homesh settlement

Israel reassures US it has no plans for ‘a major expansion,’ while prime minister’s coalition partners push to increase settlement activity

View of the Jewish outpost of Homesh, in the West Bank, on November 17, 2022. (Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The U.S. State Department issued a statement of disapproval in response to an order signed by IDF Central Command Chief Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs on Sunday allowing Israelis to re-enter an illegal outpost in the northern West Bank village of Homesh.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said the White House is “deeply troubled” by the order.

“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank, which according to Israeli law was illegally built on private Palestinian land,” Miller said.

“Advancing Israeli settlements in the West Bank is an obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution,” he added.

Miller also claimed that Fuchs’ recent order violates the promises Israel made during the Aqaba meetings in February and the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in March, in which Israel agreed not to construct any new settlement units or outposts for a period of four to six months.

The Homesh settlement was evacuated during the 2005 Gaza disengagement, along with three other settlements, in a move intended to enable the creation of a Palestinian state in the Judea and Samaria region.

In March, the Israeli Knesset voted to rescind the 2005 Disengagement Law, with right-wing members praising the ‘historic correction’ to reverse the 18-ban and “erase the disgrace of deportation,” according to far-right Financial Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the settlement was illegal, as it sits on private Palestinian land.

United States Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides objected to the recent development in conversations with Israeli officials, according to the Times of Israel. In March, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had conveyed U.S. concern regarding the Israel’s Knesset’s decision to repeal the 2005 Disengagement Law.

At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had responded that the Knesset decision was done to right an injustice but that it would lead to no new settlements.

Once again, Netanyahu officials have apparently reached out to the U.S. Biden administration to reassure them that Israel is not planning “a major expansion” in the settlements. However, the prime minister’s coalition partners are reportedly pushing for settlement expansion, with Smotrich reportedly seeking to double the number of settlers.

Several coalition members, like Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, ran a political campaign with promises to increase settlement activity and return to outposts like Homesh.

This creates pressure on Netanyahu, complicating his ability to satisfy the demands of coalition partners and the Western nations he relies on to expand the Abraham Accords peace agreements.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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