In 2005, the Knesset passed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government’s “Disengagement Plan,” which spelled out the “evacuation of Israelis and their property from the Gaza Strip and territory in northern Samaria.” On Monday night, the same Knesset (with some of the same people), amended the disengagement law, allowing Israeli settlers to stay in Homesh, which was among the settlements eradicated by Sharon and his associates.
However, they will not be allowed to live in the territory in question, since the land there is believed to be privately owned by PA Arabs and the law does not permit permanent construction there.
I will get to the part where this can be reversed in cooperation between the potential settlers and the government, but first, the part about who got what private Arab land requires some clarification:
On January 1, 1978, the IDF confiscated an area of 173 acres from the Arab villages of Burqa and Silat ad-Dhahr in northern Samaria to establish a Nahal Brigade settlement that combines agriculture and military service (many Israeli settlements on either side of the 1967 “green line” began as Nahal settlements – DI). It was called Ma’aleh Nahal. An internal military document from April 24, 1980, states: “The intention: to nationalize Ma’ale Nahal while avoiding as much as possible any publicity, with the locals and in the media.”
Fun factoid: Ariel Sharon was Agriculture Minister in PM Menachem Begin’s government in 1980, and as such was the driving force behind the settlement enterprise in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
The acquisition order of the Homesh land was signed by the Commander of the Central Command – indefinitely. There was no time limit.
The amendment to the disengagement law was passed Monday night with a 31 to 18 majority. Incidentally, it does not include a reference to the prosperous Jewish villages that were destroyed by the IDF and later by the local Arabs in the Gaza Strip.
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, chaired by Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, decided to submit the “Homesh bill” without waiting for the opinion of the National Security Council, the IDF, the Foreign Ministry, or the Shin Bet, whose representatives were not present at the meeting. Labor MK Gilad Kariv had asked to wait for their review, but Edelstein didn’t.
Since the evacuation of the settlements of Homesh, Sa Nur, Ganim, and Kadim in August 2005, Israelis have been forbidden to stay there. Homesh is built on private Arab land (confiscated by the IDF), with two plots that are “clean” state land. Sa Nur and Kadim were established on state land only. Ganim, which also began as a Nahal settlement, has been settled illegally by Arabs in 2022.
Shortly after the disengagement, Israelis returned to Homesh and established a yeshiva on its grounds, with a few temporary structures that were frequently evacuated and demolished, only to be immediately resettled. Since the 2021 murder of the Homesh yeshiva student Yehuda Dimentman, former Defense Minister Benny Gantz has refrained from ordering the evacuation of the outpost.
Now, here’s the real upside: the disengagement law stated that all land rights of the Israeli residents in the evacuated areas were null and void. The amended law recognizes forward land rights acquired by Israelis there. The amended law therefore allows the re-establishing of the destroyed settlements. It also includes a clause that allows Israelis to acquire land rights in northern Samaria. Now prospective settlers (and re-settlers) are free, in addition to reclaiming their state lands from the government, to also purchase those private Arab lands, or ask the state to allocate to them new state lands.
And that, folks, is a very good thing.