Wafa News Agency reported Thursday that the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) approved a bill to cancel the plan to disengage from four settlements in the West Bank that were ‘disengaged’ in 2005.

The four colonial settlement outposts, constructed on illegally seized Palestinian land in the West Bank, were originally ‘disengaged’ as part of the unilateral “disengagement” plan from Gaza which was implemented in 2005 by the Israeli occupation government.

Since that time, the colonies have been re-established, and dozens more have been established in the West Bank, with tens of thousands of Israeli paramilitary settlers squatting illegally on stolen Palestinian land.

All Israeli colonial settlements are considered illegal under international law, but the Israeli government makes a distinction between ‘authorized’ and ‘unauthorized’ colonies. Israelis, most of them immigrants from other countries, are allowed to take Palestinian land by force and establish colonies. They set up caravans and then more permanent structures. Once they become established, they ask for the Israeli government to recognize their land takeover and provide electric, water and sewage service to the colony. The Israeli government usually complies, supporting the colonizers with infrastructure and military support, essentially annexing the land to the state of Israel. Israel has never declared its borders since its creation in 1948, and has continually expanded onto Palestinian land, until the Palestinians are now left with just 13% of their original land, the land of historic Palestine.

In this case, the colonies in question: “Ganim”, “Kadim”, “Homesh” and “Sanor”, were dismantled in 2005.

The new legislation will remove criminal punishment imposed on settlers who enter or reside in these four settlements, which are located on Palestinian lands in the northern West Bank.

The so-called “disengagement plan” imposed criminal penalties on settlers seeking to enter or reside in these settlements.

This step paves the way for the draft law to be presented to the Knesset plenary for a vote, following its approval in a preliminary reading on February 15th.

The bill was submitted by the chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs, headed by Minister of Justice Yariv Levin, is still working on formulating the government’s position on the bill.