The new Diaspora Minister, Nachman Shai (Labor), said on Friday morning that the Bennett-Lapid government would not give up any part of Judea and Samaria.
Shai was interviewed on 100FM, and the host pointed out that a member of the coalition, Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas, had spoken in Arabic about the return of the “occupied territories.”
“What does it matter what Mansour Abbas said?” Minister Shai responded. “This government will not return an inch and I don’t see a political settlement on the horizon. It will not give back.”
In this context, it should be pointed out that while the many Jewish settlements in the liberated territories have been established under Labor governments, very few if any have been demolished by Labor governments. Most of the demolition and evacuation of Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, were carried out under right-wing prime ministers, including the most horrendous destruction of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip which was carried out under Likud Chairman Ariel Sharon.
The next Likud prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, began his second stint at the helm with his infamous Bar Ilan speech, in which he supported the establishment of a Palestinian State and promised to suspend the building of new Jewish settlements to that end. Netanyahu’s rule was dotted with the demolition and evacuation of Jewish homes in Amona, Ofra, Beit El, and Gush Etzion – not nearly as many as under Sharon, but way more than under the Labor governments.
So if a Labor minister promises not to give back territory to the Arabs, I trust him way more than I do, say, Naftali Bennett.
And while we’re at it, Friday marks the fifth full month without the issuing of building permits in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley – since January 17. Granted, the bulk of this settlement freeze was on Netanyahu’s watch, but now there’s a new fellow in charge, and he received on Friday a stern reminder from David Elhayani, chairman of Yesha Council (Bennett’s old job), demanding the resumption of construction in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.
“Mr. Prime Minister, for the past five months, the Supreme Planning Council has not convened to promote and approve construction plans in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley,” Elhayani wrote his predecessor, adding, “According to the usual procedure in recent years, every three months a meeting of the council is convened to approve and promote plans, and each time, all the plans that were approved were promoted in terms of planning throughout the area, without exception.”
Elhayani, who is affiliated with Labor, also demanded that “the residents of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley not be harmed and that there will be no discrimination against them in any matter of promoting the planning. Many plans have been waiting a long time for approval, and therefore, the council must be convened as soon as possible to advance them.”
So, to reiterate: one Labor minister and one Labor settlers’ leader are supporting a healthy, long-term Jewish settlement in the liberated territories. Why it’s a Topsy-Turvy world we live in, isn’t it?