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Gallant ends 2005 disengagement restrictions in Samaria

Until the ban enacted by IDF Central Command is canceled or expires in 2028, the move is symbolic.

Israelis attempt to resettle the evacuated town of Sa-Nur in northern Samaria, Nov. 17, 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
Israelis attempt to resettle the evacuated town of Sa-Nur in northern Samaria, Nov. 17, 2020. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday approved the enactment of a bill repealing parts of the 2005 Disengagement Law, allowing Israelis to stay in three Samaria communities evacuated 19 years ago.

The 2005 disengagement led to the destruction and evacuation of the villages of Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim in northern Samaria, in addition to 21 Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip.

On March 21, 2023, Israel’s Knesset voted 31-18 to repeal parts of the bill banning Israelis from entering and residing in the four Samaria towns.

However, while the ban on dwelling in the territory of Homesh was lifted two months later, the defense minister and the Israel Defense Forces have yet to greenlight the return to Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim.

Because Jerusalem has failed to extend its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria since retaking control of the territories after the 1967 Six-Day War, laws passed by the Israeli legislature do not apply until the head of the IDF’s Central Command signs off on it.

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox recently extended the ban on entering the three remaining communities until 2028, claiming that the “security preparations” have yet to be completed, Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster reported on Wednesday.

“After the law on the cancellation of the disengagement passed in the Knesset and following work carried out by my staff, we were able to complete this historic move,” Gallant said in a statement by his office, adding that “the Jewish hold on Judea and Samaria guarantees security.”

“The application of the law on the cancellation of the disengagement will lead to the development of the settlement [in northern Samaria] and provide security for the residents of the region,” Gallant added.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who was deported from Sa-Nur in 2005, also applauded Gallant’s decision, saying that “the State of Israel today officially corrected the injustice and folly of the expulsion from northern Samaria.”

Meanwhile, members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition criticized Gallant’s move as smoke and mirrors amid his calls for Israel to return the Gaza Strip to Palestinian control.

“Here’s another reason for privatizing the postal system,” tweeted Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair Yuli Edelstein. “I passed the law to cancel the disengagement from northern Samaria more than a year ago. Apparently, the mail only arrived at the Ministry of Defense today.”

Otzma Yehudit Party lawmaker Limor Son Har-Melech stated, “Gallant’s failed attempt to return to the right-wing camp by retroactively ratifying a law that was passed one year ago by the Knesset is embarrassing. Gallant is left-wing, and the settlement will grow stronger—despite Gallant and his friends, and not because of them.”

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