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Gallant opens door to Jewish return to evacuated part of Samaria

The Knesset in March repealed the disengagement law ban on Israelis living in the four communities.

Visitors walk by the water tower in the ruins of the former community of Homesh, Aug. 27, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.
Visitors walk by the water tower in the ruins of the former community of Homesh, Aug. 27, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has instructed Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, head of the IDF Central Command, to sign an order that could allow Jews to once more live in Homesh, one of the four communities in northern Samaria that were evacuated in the 2005 disengagement.

The Knesset in March repealed articles of the law banning Israelis from entering and residing in the four communities. The Gaza disengagement led to the evacuation and destruction of Sa-Nur, Homesh, Ganim and Kadim in Samaria, and 21 communities in the Gaza Strip.

“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,” reads the introductory text to the legislation approved in March.

The law erases “to some extent” “the stain on the garment of the State of Israel” left by the disengagement, it continues.

The return of Israelis to these areas is subject to approval by the military.

A game of cat and mouse has taken place between the IDF and former residents and supporters since the disengagement, particularly at Homesh, where a yeshivah has operated out of caravans and tents. Troops have dismantled the yeshivah several times over the years.

The coalition agreement between Likud and the Religious Zionism Party requires the government to allow for the Homesh Yeshivah to remain in place as a first step towards rebuilding the four communities.

Gallant is also considering a measure that would give official legal status to the yeshivah, which could be relocated to a nearby plot of state land.

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