Israel advances bill enabling return to illegal Jewish settlements evacuated in 2015

Middle East Monitor  /  March 14, 2023

Israel’s far-right occupation government advanced a bill yesterday that will enable Jewish settlers to return to areas of the West Bank evacuated in 2005 as part of the Disengagement Law, enacted by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

According to Haaretz, the bill, headed by Likud Knesset member Yuli Edelstein, passed by a majority of 40 in favour, with 17 MKs opposing it.

The introductory text to the amendment states: “There is no longer any justification to prevent Israelis from entering and staying in the evacuated territory in northern Samaria, and therefore it is proposed to state that these sections [of the disengagement law] will no longer apply to the evacuated territory.”

The bill would repeal the clauses of the Disengagement Law that ban Israelis from living in the region where the four illegal settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sanur previously stood in the northern Occupied West Bank.

Edelstein and Israeli National Missions Minister Orit Strook sponsored the measure following the request of the head of the Settlements Council in the Occupied West Bank, Yossi Dagan, who expressed his pleasure at the government’s decision.

“This is the start of correcting a historical injustice. I expect the law to be completely repealed. This is a struggle we have been waging for 18 years and we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dagan last month after the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed the preliminary reading of the bill last month with 62 MKs in favour and 36 against.

All of Israel’s settlements and settlers are illegal under international law.

In 2005, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon enacted a law requiring unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, and the removal of 25 illegal settlements in the two areas.

Twenty-one settlements in Gaza have already been removed and 8,000 Jewish settlers have been evacuated. In the Occupied West Bank, four illegal Jewish settlements were evacuated but the structures in them were maintained and the areas labelled closed military zones.