Ministers to weigh bill next week that would legalize illegal Homesh outpost

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

People walk by the water tower on the ruins of Homesh, August 27, 2019. (Hillel Meir/Flash90)
People walk by the water tower on the ruins of Homesh, August 27, 2019. (Hillel Meir/Flash90)

A bill to repeal clauses of the 2005 disengagement law which led to the evacuation of all settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank will be brought to a vote in a key government committee on Sunday and, if approved, forwarded to the Knesset for the next legislative stages.

The bill is key to the government’s goal of legalizing the illegal settlement outpost of Homesh, one of the settlements evacuated under the disengagement law — which has since been illegally rebuilt and evacuated on several occasions.

The legislative push comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked Israeli leaders to “pause” actions such as settlement construction in order to reduce tensions with the Palestinians.

The bill, advanced by Likud MK Yuli Edelstein and, during the last Knesset by National Missions Minister Orit Strock of the Religious Zionism party, would repeal the clauses of the disengagement law which ban Israelis from living in the region where the four settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sar-Nur previously stood.

If approved by the committee, it will move to the Knesset for a preliminary reading in the plenum the following week.

In a hearing in the High Court of Justice last month over a petition by local Palestinian landowners that the illegal Homesh outpost be removed, the justices expressed doubt that the settlement could be legalized, even were the disengagement law to be amended, given that it is built largely on private Palestinian land.

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