Rivka Nivri, 14, had one plea for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his ministers.
“Please do not destroy our homes. Please do not evacuate families and children. I love my community. I want to stay in my home and to be assured that I will grow up there without the fear that it will be destroyed,” said the teenager, who lives in the Amona outpost.
“I was born there and grew up there,” she said, speaking at the tail end of a two-hour rally in support of legislation that MKs Ya’acov Katz (National Union) and Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) plan to present to the Knesset Wednesday for a preliminary reading. The bills would retroactively legalize unauthorized West Bank Jewish construction.
The legislation is seen as a last ditch effort to save homes on four outposts, including Amona, that are slated for demolition this year as a result of petitions that left-wing groups Peace Now and Yesh Din have filed with the High Court of Justice.
Supporters of the legislation said that 9,000 West Bank Jewish homes had the same legal status as the Ulpana structures and that without legislation, left-wing groups could file court petitions against all of the homes. They have warned of a wave of demolitions, which they said would be akin to the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.
Dozens of Gaza evacuees came to the rally, many wearing orange T-shirts – the color of the battle against the disengagement.
At the rally, Orlev called on Netanyahu not to divorce the settlement movement and the religious Zionist camp by opposing the bill.
“In the next election, you will have to go with [Kadima Party leader Shaul] Mofaz and [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak; we won’t be there to help you,” he warned.
Orlev had delayed placing his bill before the plenum, in hopes that Netanyahu would support it.
“I have been under pressure for the last couple of months not to bring the bill to a vote,” he said, adding that during all his years in office, he had never been so pressured to drop a bill.
“But tomorrow, God willing, the bill will be brought forward,” he said.
As he spoke, the Prime Minister’s Office briefed reporters, informing them that ministers and deputy ministers who opposed the bill would be fired.
“This is the moment of truth,” Orlev told the hundreds of rally-goers. “Every minister and MK, and the prime minister, will have to live with their conscience.”
He noted, as other speakers did, that ministers had spoken on behalf of the outposts and made solidarity visits there. He called on them to remain true to their principles and their pledges of support.
Based on these past promises, he said, the legislation should pass.
“We are people of faith. The truth will win out,” he declared.
Rabbi Yair Frank of Amona urged ministers not to listen to Netanyahu’s statements that the legislation was harmful to the settlements.
“Do not let Netanyahu turn your head and spin you,” he warned. “His name isn’t Binyamin Netanyahu. It’s Binyamin Spinyahu.”
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), meanwhile, announced that “today we are divorcing the Likud. They are the party of destruction. Only the Likud can sacrifice and destroy.”
He noted that Jewish rights to the land in Judea and Samaria were justified religiously and historically.
“Israel is built on the land of Abraham – you shouldn’t have to legislate that,” he declared.
The rally took place next to a protest tent that Amona resident Yehuda Yifrach set up last week. Yifrach, who embarked on a hunger strike last Tuesday, announced at the rally that 43 people had now joined him in that strike. He called on supporters of the settlements to gather again at the tent at 11 a.m. in advance of the vote.
Joining them will be activists who began a two-day march to Jerusalem on Monday.
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