Law Would ‘Reverse’ Disengagement in Northern Shomron

Israeli soldiers walk by the water tower on the ruins of the evacuated settlement of Chomesh in 2009. (Miriam Alster/Flash90, File)

The government is set to discuss on Sunday a law that would cancel the disengagement in northern Shomron. In 2006, as Israel withdrew from Gaza, the country also forcibly evacuated the residents of four communities in northern Shomron – Chomesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim and Kadim. Between them, the four towns had slightly more than 2,000 residents, but pressure has been building for years for a return of Israeli sovereignty to the region.

The law, which is expected to be approved for Knesset legislation, is being proposed by MK Shuli Muallem-Refaeli (Jewish Home), and is being co-sponsored by coalition whip MK David Bitan. According to Bitan, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approves of the law as well. While the law will not reestablish the towns that were dismantled as part of the 2006 disengagement, it will allow Israelis to enter the area for hikes and other purposes. Currently, Israeli citizens are not allowed to enter the area, although a small yeshiva has been operating on and off in Chomesh for several years, with the approval of the IDF.

The law states that “the purpose of the disengagement was to create a situation where Israel’s security, economy, demography, and negotiating stance would be improved. However, today it is clear that the disengagement has not  succeeded in this manner, but has created much damage to Israel specifically in these areas. Despite the removal of residents, no change has been made to the status of the land or to Israel’s military presence in the area.”

Shomron Council head Yossi Dagan said that “we have been waiting 11 years for this. The time has come to cancel the disengagement law, everywhere that it was imposed, and especially in northern Shomron. The towns remain as they were, and are awaiting their residents’ return. The roads are there, the electrical infrastructure remains as it was. On the other hand, the injury and shame of the disengagement remain, and the time has come to cancel that,” Dagan added.