The Knesset voted on a bill early Tuesday morning that would repeal the 2005 Disengagement Law which led to Israel’s unilateral pullout of Israeli citizens from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the disputed region of Samaria.
With the repeal of that law, Israelis can return to those sites after an 18-year ban.
The Disengagement Law made it illegal for settlers to live in the settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sa-Nur the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, or even from entering those areas. These were the only settlements in the West Bank to be uprooted by the disengagement.
The law’s repeal only affects the settlements in Judea and Samaria and does not impact the Gaza withdrawal.
This morning’s vote, which passed the bill with a coalition majority, will enable settlers to remain in the settlement of Homesh, where they had illegally established a yeshiva, a religious Jewish school. That yeshiva had been scheduled for destruction. The Israeli Supreme Court has said that the land in Homesh belongs to Palestinians from the nearby village of Burqa.
The expulsion of Jews from the settlements has been a symbol of the settlement movement and its conflict with the government. Many in the movement believe that Jewish settlement in the disputed territories acquired by Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967 will lead to decreased violence against Jews.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who came under fire on Sunday for saying there is no such thing as the Palestinian people when he referred to the “Palestinian” status of his own family under the British Mandate, immediately praised the move as a “historic correction.”
“The Knesset of Israel and our coalition begin tonight to erase the disgrace of deportation from the list of laws and promote the regularization of the yeshiva in Homesh,” Smotrich wrote on social media early this morning.
Knesset Member Limor Son Har-Melech from the Jewish Power party, who is an evacuee from the former Homesh settlement, praised the Disengagement Law’s repeal but said, “We must not rest on our laurels or the euphoria of the moment.”
The United States Biden administration expressed its opposition to the legislation.
“We have been very clear [that] we oppose the bill,” said U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.
The bill comes as Israel was reported to have agreed not to discuss approval of new settlement construction for a period of four months or to discuss the legalization of existing illegal outposts for six months. This agreement was allegedly made during a one-day summit with the Palestinian Authority on Sunday, which took place in Egypt and also included representatives from Egypt, Jordan and the United States.
The measures reportedly agreed upon were intended to calm tensions ahead of the Muslim month of Ramadan, which starts this Wednesday evening.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.