US presses Israel not to legalize resettled Samaria town

State Department spokesman says U.S. disapproves of retroactive legalization and expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The Biden administration signaled its disapproval of a potential move by the new right-wing Israeli government to retroactively legalize outposts in Judea and Samaria, including Homesh, with a spokesman saying that the U.S. is staunchly opposed to the recognition and expansion of existing Jewish communities in the region.

“The Homesh outpost in the West Bank is illegal. It is illegal even under Israeli law,” said State Department Spokesman Ned Price during a media conference in Washington on Wednesday.

“Our call to refrain from unilateral steps certainly includes any decision to create a new settlement, to legalize outposts, or allowing building of any kind deep in the West Bank adjacent to Palestinian communities or on private Palestinian land.”

Price then reiterated his disapproval of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s short visit to the Temple Mount compound on Tuesday morning, calling it an “unacceptable” departure from the “historic status quo.”

The Jewish community of Homesh, which is located in northern Samaria, was evacuated during the 2005 disengagement. Since then, a yeshiva at the site has remained active, and Jewish families have repeatedly pushed for the right to return to Homesh.

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Earlier this week, the Israeli government informed Israel’s Supreme Court that it intended to change its policy regarding Homesh, and to retroactively legalize the outpost.

Reestablishing Homesh was a condition included in the Religious Zionism party’s coalition agreement.

Some activists have built temporary structures at the site, which have been repeatedly demolished by the IDF.

In December 2021, yeshiva student Yehuda Dimentman was shot and killed by a Palestinian gunmen while leaving Homesh.

His family and community activists have demanded that the Israeli government legalize Homesh and allow Jews to return to the site, as dismantling the site after Dimentman’s murder is akin to capitulating to terror.