In 2005, Ariel Sharon was the prime minister of Israel. He had won the elections on the mandate of a right-wing government, and he himself was often referred to as the father of the settlements. No one could have guessed the U-turn that his government would make.
A couple of months after Ariel Sharon was elected to become prime minister, he proposed the “disengagement plan implementation law”. This law made way for the Israeli disengagement of Gaza. It involved the withdrawal from 21 Israeli Settlements in the Gaza Strip. In addition to this, four settlements in the West Bank were also withdrawn from and dismantled. The four settlements in the West Bank were Kadim, Ganim, Homesh and Sa-Nur.
This withdrawal, often called the disengagement from Gush Katif resulted in huge protests from the Israeli Right-wing. In fact, the backlash from the Knesset members even caused Ariel Sharon to form a new political party.
Back then Netanyahu had strong comments about the plan, following his resignation from the government:
“Only we in the Knesset are able to stop this evil. Everything that the Knesset has decided, it is also capable of changing. I am calling on all those who grasp the danger: Gather strength and do the right thing. I don't know if the entire move can be stopped, but it still might be stopped in its initial stages. [Don't] give [the Palestinians] guns, don't give them rockets, don't give them a sea port, and don't give them a huge base for terror.”
One of the major arguments of the right-wing was that giving land to Hamas could only result in more terrorism and violence for Israelis. The following years have been evidence to the truth of these concerns. Hamas has turned the Gaza into a terror state, often using foreign aid to assist in their war for their annihilation of the Jewish people. It seems they set this goal above the needs of their own people, resulting in terrible oppression and corruption.
The people who were worst affected by the disengagement were the residents who lived in the settlements. Many people moved to the Israeli settlements in Gaza to protest the actions of the government. Similarly, the soldiers who were picked to carry out the law, were left in a moral quandary, not willing to evict Jews from their own land. This resulted in outcry and many soldiers were court-marshalled for insubordination. This is ironic, particularly at the moment, as soldiers on the left-wing are currently holding the government to ransom by refusing to show up for duty over the judicial reforms.
The Chief Rabbi of Gush Gatif (the block of settlements in Gaza) had this to say at the time:
“It took 3 decades. 30 years to build Gush Katif. It took 3 hours to demolish a settlement, it took three minutes to demolish a house. It is easy to ruin, but hard to repair.”
Repealing the Law
In the last couple of weeks, the first few incremental steps towards repair have begun. The government have just voted to repeal a portion of the disengagement law. They only repealed the section of the law applying to the four settlements that were demolished in the Samaria. Settler leaders and right wing MKs have welcomed the move calling it a “first step” towards re-establishment. Their vision is the complete repeal of the law although this is still some way off for now.
This new development was particularly poignant for one MK from Otzma Yehudit. Limor Son Har Melech lived in Homesh, before the expulsion and lost her husband in a terrorist attack nearby the settlement. She had this to say:
“Our vision is the complete cancellation of the Disengagement Law and the return of all settlements that were evacuated and destroyed – the four settlements in northern Samaria and twenty-two settlements in Gush Katif, It is an inseparable part of the Land of Israel, our homeland, and we have the right and duty to settle there”
While repealing this law may be more of a salute than a change to facts on the ground at the moment, once again, it demonstrates the fundamental change of direction in Israel over the last decade or two.
One of the major reasons for this was the total failure of the disengagement law. Ariel Sharon tried to trade land for peace with the Palestinians. In effect, the result was catastrophic. All that happened was the forming of a terror state right on Israel’s front door.
This failure has been apparent for all Israel to see, meaning that the idea of land for peace is now far less popular.
The ideology of the right wing, with Netanyahu being the chief proponent is to make peace from a position of strength. This was the case the Abraham Accords. Peace with Israel was practical and advantageous because Israel have the means to help other nations in the regional conflict with Iran. This shift in Israeli thinking also has implications for settlements in the West Bank. It seems that no one in their right minds would now be willing to take the security risk of evacuating well established settlements in Judea and Samaria. In fact steps are being taken in the opposite direction - repealing the disengagement law is an example of this.
Implications for Bible Prophecy
As described in Ezekiel 36-38, we expect to see the settlements on the mountains of Israel continue to grow and we are also waiting for the time of peace that is referred to, before the Gogian invader comes upon the land. The failure of Gush Katif was a formative moment in modern Israel, effecting both these areas of Bible Prophecy.
This has been Daniel Blackburn joining you for this weeks' edition of Bible in the News.