update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

US, EU condemn relocation of Homesh Yeshivah

The State Department is "deeply troubled" by the reopening of the Jewish school.

Jewish men work at the Homesh outpost in northern Samaria, May 29, 2023. Credit: Flash90.
Jewish men work at the Homesh outpost in northern Samaria, May 29, 2023. Credit: Flash90.

The United States and European Union both issued statements on Monday criticizing Israel’s relocation of the Homesh Yeshivah to a permanent site on state-owned land. 

“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s recent order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank,” a State Department spokesperson said.

This move is “inconsistent with both former prime minister [Ariel] Sharon’s written commitment to the Bush administration in 2004 and the current Israeli government’s commitments to the Biden administration,” the spokesperson continued.

Located in northern Samaria, the building was relocated overnight Sunday to a new, permanent location, days after the Israel Defense Forces revoked a military order preventing Israelis from residing in the area.

IDF soldiers guard the Homesh outpost in northern Samaria, May 29, 2023. Credit: Flash90.

Before dawn on Monday, yeshivah students and volunteers moved the school several hundred meters off of disputed land.

In March, the Knesset repealed articles of the 2005 “Disengagement Law” banning Israelis from entering and residing in four Samaria communities, and in May, IDF Central Command head Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs signed an order allowing Israelis to reenter Homesh.

“The expansion of settlements undermines the geographic viability of a two-state solution, exacerbates tensions, and further harms trust between the parties. This is consistent with the views of previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. We regularly engage with Israeli officials on this issue and will continue to do so,” the State Department spokesperson concluded.

In a statement, the E.U. condemned “the establishment of permanent structures for Israeli settlers in the Homesh outpost in the occupied West Bank” and called on the Israeli government to reverse the decision which it said goes “against efforts to lower tensions on the ground.”

A view of the Homesh outpost of Homesh in Samaria, May 29, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

The Palestinian Authority also condemned the relocation of the religious school, with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates saying in a statement that “settlements are a crime in every sense of the word, according to international law” and calling on the United Nations to implement Security Council Resolution 2334 according to which building Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria is a “flagrant violation” of international law with “no legal validity.”

But government officials and community leaders in Judea and Samaria praised the decision to relocate the yeshivah.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said it “symbolized the move from a destructive government to construction and development of the entire State of Israel.”

Yesha Council chief and Gush Etzion Regional Council Chairman Shlomo Ne’eman on Monday hailed the “moving” decision and praised the government.

“This is a historic and emotional morning for all the people of Israel. After almost 18 years since the terrible expulsion [the disengagement], this morning, the students of the yeshivah finally got to recite the blessing of the return [of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel],” said Ne’eman.

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