Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Yesha Council head David Elhayani

Yesha Council head David Elhayani announced on Sunday that he is canceling his scheduled talk at the annual Haaretz conference on Wednesday because it is being co-sponsored by the anti-Zionist NGOs B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

David Elhayeni is the head of the Arvot HaYarden Regional Council as well as chairman of the Yesha Council. Elhayeni made headlines in 2020 when he denounced the Trump-Kushner peace plan, arguing that the two American politicians were not friends of Israel and that their plan risks Israeli security. He was attacked at the time by the Likud. He has since joined Gideon Saar’s New Hope Party.

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Elhayani’s announcement was in response to pressure from the Choosing Life Forum of Bereaved Families and the Wounded IDF Veterans Forum, who both called on him not to participate in a conference sponsored by groups that harm IDF soldiers.

B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence have faced sharp criticism in Israel due to their activities against IDF soldiers and Israel—which are funded by donations from European private and government sources. Last month, B’Tselem launched an international campaign depicting Israel as being an apartheid state.

“I agreed to participate in the Haaretz conference in order to make the important voice of the communities [in Judea and Samaria] heard and to represent a sane voice on that day,” said Elhayani. “At the same time, I can’t help recognizing the pain of bereaved families and terror victims that see these organizations as partners in activities against IDF soldiers, who suggest that my participation would add to their pain.”

“Therefore, I announced that I am canceling my participation and ask that my friend Oded Revivi, head of the Efrat local council, who is also scheduled to participate in the conference, listen to the voices of these dear families and cancel his participation.”

Revivi said he does not plan to cancel his participation in the forum. “I will go to every possible platform to give my opinion about our rights to the Land,” Revivi said in a statement.

Efrat council member and Opposition head Avraham Ben-Tzvi told JewishPress.com, “Even if Mayor Revivi participates in this conference, he speaks in his name only, not in the name of Efrat residents. It’s embarrassing that the mayor chooses to not include Efrat’s name on pro-settlement petitions and statements supported by the majority of the residents of Efrat, Gush Etzion, Hebron and other settlements, but has no problem sitting down with these anti-Zionist and anti-IDF organizations.”

Im Tirtzu praised Elhayani’s decision, calling it a “victory for common sense and Zionism,” and urged Revivi to follow suit. The group issued a statement saying “there is no justification for participating in a conference sponsored by organizations that receive millions of dollars from foreign governments to slander IDF soldiers and the State of Israel. We welcome Elhayani’s decision and call on Efrat local council head Revivi to join him.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.