Israel Allows Settlers To Return to West Bank Settlements That Were Evacuated in 2005 ‘Disengagement’

Announcing the move, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he will do everything he can to expand West Bank settlements

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Wednesday the broadening of a law that will allow Israelis to return to three settlements in the occupied West Bank that were dismantled in 2005.

In 2005, four settlements were dismantled in the West Bank and 21 in Gaza, a move known as the “disengagement.” Last year, the Israeli Knesset passed an amendment to the disengagement law allowing the return to one West Bank settlement, and Gallant’s moves allow settlers to return to the entire area, which is located in the northern West Bank between the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Jenin.

Announcing the move, Gallant vowed to do what he could to continue expanding West Bank settlements. “Just as I have done in every position I’ve held in government, I will continue to foster the settlement of Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

Gallant’s announcement came on the same day Spain, Norway, and Ireland said they would recognize Palestine as a state. The over 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and the expansion of settlements are some of the main impediments to a two-state solution.

When the current Israeli government coalition was formed in December 2022, it released a statement vowing to prioritize the expansion of West Bank settlements with the ultimate goal of annexing the territory. Settlers have very influential positions in the government, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also has a position as a minister in the Defense Ministry that gives him power to expand settlements.

After the Netanyahu coalition took power, violence against Palestinians spiked in the West Bank as the military stepped up raids, and settlers became emboldened and more violent. As a result, 2023 marked the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the UN began counting casualties in 2006, even before October 7.

After October 7, violence spiked even more as settlers took advantage of the tensions and focus on Gaza to terrorize Palestinians in the West Bank and steal their homes. Since then, at least 502 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.