An Israeli minister said Tuesday that the settlements from which Tel Aviv withdrew in the Gaza Strip in 2005 are part of the Land of Israel, and "the day will come when we return to them."

This came during statements made by Minister of Settlements and National Tasks Orit Struck to Israel's Channel Seven from inside the settlement of Homesh (northern occupied West Bank).

"The important stage today is the return to northern Samaria (the Hebrew name for the West Bank), and I believe that the sin of disengagement as a whole will eventually be corrected," said Stroke, who is from the extremist religious Zionist party.

I don't know how many years it will take, but unfortunately returning to Gaza will also involve many sacrifices, just as leaving it involved many sacrifices.

But there is no doubt that in the end there will be a part of the Land of Israel, and one day we will return to it, she said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli Knesset approved the repeal of the so-called Disengagement Law, which allows settlers to return to four West Bank settlements evacuated in 4.

According to Knesset law, settlers would be allowed to return to the settlement of Homeesh, but it did not include the Gush Katif settlements, which Israel evacuated in the Gaza Strip in 2005.

American Discomfort and Palestinian and European Condemnation

The Palestinian presidency condemned the Israeli Knesset's ratification of the law allowing the return to four settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian presidency pointed out that the Israeli government is determined to defy international law and is working to thwart efforts to prevent escalation.

Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, "This is a condemned and rejected decision that violates all resolutions of international legitimacy."

The US State Department called the Knesset's move "provocative" and said it would backfire efforts to calm down the month of Ramadan and Easter.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said Washington was "deeply troubled" by the Knesset's decision, saying settlement expansion was an obstacle to peace.

The State Department strongly urged that settlers be prevented from returning to areas covered by Israel's disengagement law.

Following the law's passage, the EU called on Israel to repeal it, which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said had the opposite effect on efforts to reduce tensions, hindering the possibility of confidence-building measures and the creation of a political horizon for dialogue.

In a statement, Borrell described the Knesset's decision as a clear step backwards, stressing that the European Union views settlements as illegal under international law, a major obstacle to peace and a threat to the viability of the two-state solution.

In August 2005, Israel evacuated four settlements in the northern West Bank as well as Gush Katif in southern Gaza, as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.