Israeli Lawmakers Push For Gaza Resettlement

A pair of Knesset members claimed a new occupation was the only way to protect Israel’s security after the Gaza war

Two hard-right Israeli MKs have formed a new legislative caucus seeking to reestablish Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. The territory was vacated by settlers following a government order in 2005 and has been kept under tight blockade ever since.

Dubbed the “Knesset Caucus for the Renewal of Settlement in the Gaza Strip,” the group was announced on Monday in a joint statement by MK Zvi Sukkot of the Religious Zionism Party and MK Limor Son Har-Melech, a member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) faction.

The lawmakers argued that “settlement in the Gaza Strip [is] a necessary step to protect Israel’s security and ensure its future,” adding “Only by a dense presence of Jewish settlements throughout Gaza will it be possible to prevent the continuation of terrorist threats and deter the enemy.”

Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated Israel has no plans to govern Gaza following the current war with Hamas, other top officials have loudly endorsed new settlements. During an ultra-nationalist rally in May, national security chief Itamar Ben Gvir stressed the need for “voluntary emigration” by Palestinians to make room for Israelis, while Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi openly called for resettlement. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has likewise backed the idea in public statements.

Last January, more than a dozen government ministers and a group of Knesset members attended a conference to discuss a return to Gaza, including Sukkot and Son Har-Melech, who are both radical settler activists. Ben Gvir and Smotrich were billed as key speakers at the event.

The creation of new Jewish communities in Gaza would almost certainly entail a permanent Israeli security presence, as is currently the case in the occupied West Bank. However, Tel Aviv has so far failed to offer a clear post-war plan for the territory.

Israel’s 2005 pull-out from Gaza saw 21 settlements unilaterally dismantled, with some reluctant residents even forcibly removed by the military. While officials have presented the move as a concession to the Palestinians, a chief architect of the disengagement, Dov Weisglass, explained the policy to Haaretz in no uncertain terms.

“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” Weisglass, a top aide to then-PM Ariel Sharon, told the outlet nearly 20 years ago. “And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.”

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Find more of his work at Consortium News and ZeroHedge.