“A Palestinian state has never been farther away than it is today,” said Dani
Dayan on Monday, as he spoke with reporters in the Psagot winery on the last day
of his almost six-year stint as head of the Council of Jewish Communities of
Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
Dayan chastised the settlers that he
charged drove former MK Bennie Begin (Likud) out of the Knesset. He also
criticized Migron residents for breaking the council’s 2008 agreement with the
government, a move that he said led to the outpost’s relocation last
The 57-year-old secular hitech businessman took over the council
in July 2007, when it was demoralized in the aftermath of the 2005 disengagement
and the violent clashes between settlers and border police during the demolition
of nine homes in the Amona outpost in 2006.
Relaxing with the reporters
over breakfast, Dayan recalled that in July 2007 when he was voted in, Ehud
Olmert was prime minister with a mandate to withdraw from isolated
At the time, new construction permits were almost
nonexistent and the Defense Ministry was focused on keeping the government’s
promise to the United States to demolish 24 West Bank outposts built after Ariel
Sharon became prime minister in March 2001, Dayan explained.
the singular topic: how and when will we evacuate those outposts,” Dayan said.
Now, he said, the government’s philosophy has shifted to one that looks to
legalize outposts, including those 24.
Some of them have indeed been
authorized, he added.
Dayan weathered an unprecedented 10-month
moratorium on new settlement building, and leaves at time in which the
government has issued a high number of building approvals and permits. Most
notable was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to advance plans to
build 3,500 new homes in an unbuilt area of the West Bank settlement known as
Obviously, he noted, that not all the changes were because of his
leadership of the council.
“Not everything was because of us [the
council],” he said, “but we have made a contribution.”
He noted that the
number of settlers had grown in the last five years. According to the Central
Bureau of Statistics, there were 276,100 settlers in Judea and Samaria in 2007,
and 325,500 in 2012.
“The settlements today are blossoming,” he said.
“There is almost no settlement without construction.”
In the last five
years the idea of evacuating settlements has been rejected, and there is a drop
in support for a Palestinian state, said Dayan.
He acknowledged that
under his watch, the Migron outpost had been evacuated and five apartment
buildings, housing 30 families, had been demolished in the Ulpana
He described himself as a “tactical pragmatist” who did not
believe that every demolition of a modular home was an evacuation.
can compromise on the path, while holding firm to the objective,” he
But he noted, that evacuated outpost residents were relocated close
to their former homes. What is significant, he said, is that the entire
framework and criteria of viewing outposts has changed from a diplomatic one of
evacuation from the West Bank to an internal discussion over private property
In 2007, the issue was the date the outpost was created,
because Israel was evaluating the situation from a diplomatic perspective and
its relationship with the United States, he said.
“The great achievement
was that the arbitrary parameter of when the outpost was established has ceased
to exist,” he said.
As he looks to the future of the settlement movement,
Dayan told reporters, it’s the internal dangers that he fears, not the external
The moral issues aside, he said, price-tag attacks against
Palestinians pose “one of the greatest dangers” to the settlement movement, he
“It sounds leftist, but it is one of the most right-wing
critiques,” he said.
Similarly, he said, it is in the best interest of
the settlement movement to normalize Palestinian lives in the West
Price-tag attacks as well as Palestinian hardship in the West Bank
help fuel the international fight against Israel’s control of the area, he
Dayan chastised the Migron resident for violating a 2008 agreement
he worked out with the government to relocate them to the Geva Binyamin
settlement, once permanent homes were built.
“They could still be there
now,” he said.
The government evacuated them because they built three new
homes on the outpost in violation of the agreement, ignoring warnings that this
was a mistake, he said..
Settlers, he said, have gained political power
in the last five years, but now need to use it more wisely. Settler political
attacks against former MK Bennie Begin (Likud) were responsible for his failure
to retain his Knesset seat, said Dayan.
This was a mistake, he
Should the possibility of territorial withdrawal reemerge, he will
be needed, Dayan said.
“In our true hour of need, we will have to seek
him out with candles,” Dayan said.
A native of Argentina, Dayan came to
Israel with his family in 1971, at age 15. He moved from Tel Aviv to the Ma’aleh
Shomron settlement in 1986, where he still lives with his family.
26, he created and then headed a software company, which he sold a few years
before becoming the council’s fifth leader, replacing Benzi
Unlike past leaders, Dayan dedicated himself fully to that
role and was not simultaneously the head of a regional council in Judea and
Dayan’s Spanish and English speaking abilities made him an
emissary to the international community.
He met with ambassadors and
visiting dignitaries. As a tribute to the status he brought to the position, he
became the first council head to be invited to speak at the prestigious Saban
Forum in Washington, DC.
He had intended to resign in the spring, but
advanced his resignation so that he could back the Likud party during the
elections, Dayan said.
In the future, he said, he envisions himself as a
“foreign minister” for the settlement movement.
The council and the
settlement movement needs a foreign policy arm to solicit international
diplomatic support in a way that goes beyond public relations, which focus
primarily on the media, he said.
Of his time in the council, he said, “I
enjoyed almost every moment.” But he noted, “If [Bank of Israel Governor]
Stanley Fisher can resign, so can I.”