Knesset Statue Commemorating Gaza Disengagement Draws Protest

Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer: The murders of PM Yitzhak Rabin and peace activist Emil Grunzweig should have been commemorated first.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israeli artist Aharon Shvo working on a statue commemorating the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. The statue was due to be unveiled in the Knesset on February 1, 2016.
Artist Aharon Shvo working on the statue, due to be unveiled in the Knesset on Monday, February 1, 2016.Credit: (No credit)
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The planned unveiling at the Knesset on Monday of a statue commemorating Israel’s evacuation of settlements in Gush Katif and the northern West Bank in 2005 has provoked a protest by Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer.

The ceremony was to be presided over by Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.

“Why did the Knesset choose to commemorate the disengagement, of all things, with a statue?” Oppenheimer wrote in an urgent letter to the parliament's legal adviser, Eyal Yinon. “By this logic, they should have first put up a statue commemorating the murder of [PM Yitzhak] Rabin and the murder of [Peace Now activist] Emil Grunzweig.”

Oppenheimer added that an investigation must be conducted into whether the Knesset speaker has the authority to decide to commemorate the disengagement in such a fashion in the Knesset building.

“With all due regret and understanding of the pain of the evacuees, erecting a permanent statue to mark a single, controversial political event that did not involve any loss of life is not a proper act, and arouses the suspicion that the Knesset speaker, Yuli Edelstein, is treating the country's house of elected representatives as if it were his own house,” Oppenheimer wrote.

As of this writing, Haaretz had not received responses from Edelstein or the Knesset legal counsel.

The statue in question, by Israeli artist Aharon Shvo, shows a palm tree sprouting out of a Star of David, reflecting the pain of being uprooted and the ability to grow anew out of that pain, according to a press release from Edelstein sent to the press. On one side of the work there is a list of the 25 settlements that were evacuated.