President Reuven Rivlin in the West Bank Peduel settlement.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The settlements in Samaria are as much a part of Israel as the country’s largest city Tel Aviv, said President Reuven Rivlin as he visited an elementary school in the community of Peduel.
“Sometimes, people talk of the state of Tel Aviv or the state of Jerusalem, the Jewish state and the state of Israel,” Rivlin said as he stood in the school’s courtyard to help celebrate the first day of classes.
“Those who live here know that there is no such thing as the state of Tel Aviv or the state of Jerusalem. There is just one country, the state of Israel,” said Rivlin.
As he looked at out at the several hundred elementary school children that sat on folding chairs, under a large tan cloth awning, the president spoke of the role their West Bank community played in the history of the nation and the state.
Rivlin, who is a veteran member of the Likud party, is fairly outspoken about the importance of national unity
among all segments of Israeli society and all regions of the country.
But on Tuesday, he linked that message with the larger diplomatic one, that highlighted the importance of the West Bank settlements to the state of Israel.
Located 4.5 kilometers away from the Green Line, within the planned route of the security barrier, the small hilltop community of Peduel has under 2,000 people and is accessible by only a small winding road.
There was a time, Rivlin said, when Peduel was known as the back porch of the nation. However, he said it has come to symbolize the Israel's historical and geographical connection, from the sea to the hilltops, from the past to the future.
“It connects the Biblical kingdom of Israel with the modern state,” he said. “Those who live here know that we will never again lend our hand to the dissolution of Jewish sovereignty.
He added that in Peduel, “we say, the Shomron is here, Tel Aviv is here, Jerusalem is here."
“We did not come to Israel because we fled the Holocaust or pogroms, we came and we will continue to settle it out of happiness and joy and the understanding that this is our land," said the president.
“You may think that this is the first day of your studies, but I will tell you something, that those who live in Pedual never stop learning. Every stone and tree tells a story."
“The geography, much like the archeology of Samaria, is like the photographs of a family album. Those who live here live in the middle of a lesson in history, in Bible, in citizenship and love of the land,” Rivlin said.
“But the most important lesson learned here, is one of unity."