Jewish settlers in the West Bank said on Monday that after Israel’s government relaxed a restriction on colonies in several evacuated locations in the territory’s northern region, they had built a religious school in a demolished outpost.
In Homesh, one of the four West Bank outposts that were evacuated as part of Israel’s 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the school was constructed on Sunday.
Israel’s far-right government revoked a 2005 law that forbade Israelis from returning to the four outposts in March.
Anti-settlement organizations claim that the prospect of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state is further diminished by the establishment of new settlements in certain regions.
Israel’s closest friend, the United States, has also stated that it is “deeply troubled” by Israeli plans to resurrect the outpost.
In a video posted to social media, settler leaders prayed before dedicating the single-story religious school and expressed their desire to restore the other evacuated settlements as well.
The settlement movement’s efforts to strengthen Israel’s control over the northern West Bank have focused on Homesh.
Despite the 2005 act, settlers have long continued to live in the outpost, erecting tents and other shelters on the sites of abandoned houses.
Although the military occasionally destroyed those buildings, it usually ignored the settlers’ presence at the outpost, which was established on Palestinian property that belonged to them.
One of Israel’s primary concerns is stopping the construction of new settlements.
Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister, who also has considerable control over West Bank settlements, is among the members of the ruling coalition, which is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to Israeli Army Radio, Smotrich and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approved the construction of the Homesh religious seminary, although they eschewed the West Bank’s standard building approval procedure.
Members of the government complimented the new building. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister and a prominent government official who is also a settler, called it “an exciting historic moment.”
The military claimed that it carried out decisions made by the government. An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by a Gallant spokesperson.
Washington has repeatedly criticized Israel’s plans for Homesh and the other three settlements that were destroyed in 2005, saying it is “deeply troubled” by them.
The majority of the world’s nations view the 700,000-person Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as illegal and hurdles to peace.
Homesh’s development is taking place as violence between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank is at an all-time high, with much of it centered in the northern section of the region.