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Knesset Passes Law Reversing 2005 Disengagement in Northern Samaria


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JERUSALEM, Israel – Many Israelis recall the traumatic scenes of the 2005 "disengagement," when the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, under pressure from the Bush administration and the international community, approved the forced removal of some 9,000 Israeli citizens from Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria (the West Bank).

In a history-making vote Tuesday, Israel's parliament, the Knesset, voted to repeal the Disengagement Law applying to Samaria, where four communities were dismantled. The vote was 31-18, and supporters of repeal, who have been working to reverse the government's decision for years, hailed the result.

"We must not rest on our laurels or the euphoria of the moment," said Knesset member Limor Son Har-Melech of the religious Otzma Yehudit Party. "We must galvanize tomorrow to complete the next two tasks that lie ahead of us: these are the reestablishment of four settlements that were evacuated in northern Samaria, and the return home to the region of Gush Katif (in the Gaza Strip), which was abandoned in an act of terrible folly and has become a nest for terror." 

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Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuli Edelstein was one of the sponsors of the repeal. He noted, "History has shown and continues to show us that whenever we give up our homeland, we will receive an increase in terror. It is a clear and well-known equation, with results that never change." 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office welcomed the vote in a statement, but not Har-Melech's call to rebuild the settlements. "The Knesset decision to repeal parts of the Disengagement Law brings to an end a discriminatory and humiliating law that barred Jews from living in areas in northern Samaria, part of our historic heritage. It is no coincidence that senior figures in the opposition have supported this law over the years.

The statement added, "However, the Government has no intention of establishing new communities in these areas." 

Netanyahu's qualifier is likely a sign of strong opposition to the vote from the Biden administration, which summoned Israel's Ambassador the U.S., Michael Herzog, to the State Department for consultation, in order to signal its displeasure.

Most Israeli opposition leaders also strongly criticized the vote. Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli said, "Let's be honest. No one threatens the Zionist vision as much as the settlers."

The vote was a triumph of sorts for the residents who were forcibly evacuated nearly 18 years ago. Beni Gal, one of those who had to leave the settlement of Homesh, told The Jerusalem Post, "On the night we were uprooted from here, it was clear to us that this was not the end of the story. Years of struggle, longing and dreams have come to an end. This is the closing of a circle."

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About The Author


John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN New since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.