Israeli Knesset Advances Amendment Allowing Settlers to Return to West Bank Settlements Evacuated Under the “Disengagement Plan"

Adalah: the proposed bill demonstrates a clear intent to commit international criminal acts under the Rome Statute of the ICC
Update: on 21 March 2023, the Knesset passed the amendment with a 31-18 majority vote.
CLICK HERE to read the law [Hebrew]


On 15 February 2023, the proposed amendment to the Disengagement Plan Law (2005) that would allow settlers to return to settlements in the northern West Bank, passed a preliminary reading by a vote of 62 to 36. In response, on 1 March 2023,  Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to the Attorney General, Defense Minister and the Knesset’s legal advisor calling on them to act immediately to prevent the advancement of the proposed bill.


    CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter [Hebrew]


The proposed bill seeks to annul clauses 23-30(b) that prohibit entry and residence in territories that were evacuated in 2005 as part of Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. In doing so, the bill aims to enable the re-entry of settlers into the northern West Bank and the re-establishment of evacuated settlements while maintaining the provisions of the Disengagement Plan Implementation Law that provide compensation to evacuated settlers.


In the letter, Adalah's Legal Director, Dr. Suhad Bishara, argued that the proposed amendment violates international humanitarian law (IHL), which prohibits Israel from exploiting the occupied territories for its political and civilian purposes, including settlement construction. The International Court of Justice's Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004 on the Separation Wall specifically referred to the the illegal status of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories since 1967, violating IHL.


Adalah further argued that the proposed bill demonstrates a clear intent (Mens Rea), to commit crimes under the Rome Statute. It is well established that the transfer of Israeli citizens into territories occupied since 1967 is considered a war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute. Therefore, Adalah stressed that if the proposed bill is passed, it would serve as evidence of the criminal intent of the Knesset members who vote in favor of it to violate international criminal law.


Related Press Releases:


Are Israeli settlers poised to return to northern West Bank? - Adalah 3 January 2019.


Photo by Mati Milstein: Young Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank settlement of Homesh gather during the evacuation of Israeli settlements from Gaza and sections of the West Bank, in August 2005.