Memorial to Gaza disengagement installed in Knesset despite protest

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Monday unveiled a statue in the Knesset building commemorating Israel’s 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip and evacuation of the Gush Katif Jewish communities.

“It’s appropriate that the Knesset, which made the decision [to evacuate], know how to remember it and remind visitors of the communities of Gush Katif and northern Samaria,” Edelstein said.

“I had no political motive in placing the work [here], and as long as I am Knesset speaker, it will stand in the Knesset. I hope that future speakers will understand that the place where difficult decisions were made is also the place where it’s important that they be remembered.”

The statue, created by sculptor Aharon Shabo, is a miniature copy in bronze of a statue erected at the Gush Katif Center in Nitzan, and depicts a palm tree growing between two halves of a Star of David. The statue symbolizes the crisis of the communities being uprooted and the ability to grow anew out of the schism. The side of the statue is inscribed with the names of the 21 Gush Katif and northern Samaria communities that were evacuated.

Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yanon rejected a request by Peace Now Director General Yariv Oppenheimer that the statue not be put up. Oppenheimer argued that “thus far, difficult and traumatic events in the history of the Jewish people have not been commemorated by monuments in the Knesset — not the murder of [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin and not the Yom Kippur War, not the evacuation of Yamit or the slaughter in Kafr Kassem.”

Yanon determined that “the model erected in the Knesset does not take a political stance on the disengagement. Even the proponents of the [disengagement] plan do not deny the fact that evacuating the Jewish towns was an historic national event, and as such there is no reason not to mark it in the manner the Knesset speaker decided upon, as it is his authority to do.”