Israel's Knesset votes to ban West Bank settlers.

The Israeli Knesset partially overturned a regulation prohibiting settlers from settling in parts of the occupied West Bank that the Israeli government had evacuated in 2005, the settler movement in Israel celebrated on Tuesday.

Ariel Sharon’s administration that year, a longtime settler supporter turned peacemaker, supervised Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as well as the eviction of Jewish settlers from the Palestinian enclave and four settlements in the northern West Bank.
Israelis are now allowed to return to the West Bank settlement sites close to the city of Nablus, despite the fact that legislation passed at the time forbade them from doing so.

The legislative vote significantly clears the way for Israeli authorities to formally let settlers return to Homesh, the lone settlement in the West Bank.

Israel contests the legality of all Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory, which are viewed as such by the majority of international countries.

In December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the reins of one of the right-winged governments in the history of the nation.

The UN Security Council last month urged all parties “to observe calm and patience and desist from provocative acts” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict due to an uptick in violence.

The council declared in a statement on February 20 that it “strongly opposes all unilateral acts that obstruct peace, including Israeli settlement construction and expansion, expropriation of Palestinian land, and the ‘legalization’ of settlement outposts.”

Homesh has become a symbol of the far-right settlement movement in Israel.

In 2009, a small group of activists returned to the area and constructed a yeshiva, a Jewish seminary, which Israeli troops repeatedly ordered them to leave before finally allowing them to stay.

Photographer visited the location in December 2021 and saw the school and a dormitory there, both of which were made of tarpaulin fixed on wooden frames. The Israeli military was manning the scene.

Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, himself a West Bank settler who has declared “there isn’t a Palestinian nation”, praised the parliamentary decision as “historic”.

The legislative action “advances the regularization of our presence at Homesh” and “starts to eradicate the stigma of expulsion,” he stated.

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