Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Monday that he would never uproot settlers or West Bank settlements, including in the framework of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
“As long as it is up to me, no one will be uprooted from their home,” Netanyahu said as he made a campaign stop in the Gush Etzion region, stopping in the Elazar settlement and the Beit Midrash for Women – Migdal Oz.
Moreover, Netanyahu declared, he does not plan to stop settlement building.
“There will be no cessation of settlements, but the complete opposite,” he said.
In Elazar, he visited with representatives of the 15 families that security forces forcibly evacuated from the Netiv Ha’avot
outpost in June, on orders from the High Court of Justice.
Netanyahu explained to the families that the demolition of the Netiv Ha’avot homes occurred in the context of the High Court order, but is not something that represents his diplomatic and philosophical outlook.
Wearing a black puffer jacket to ward off the cold, he held his hand on his heart as he sat in the Noy family’s crowded living room and swore his allegiance to the eternal Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.
Speaking in advance of the roll out of the Trump peace plan this spring, Netanyahu said it would be a mistake to stick to the past formula for such a deal, in which settlements would be destroyed as part of that plan.
“There is an idea that the way to achieve peace with the Arabs is to be uprooted from our land,” he said. “This is a sure way to achieve the opposite of the dream. It’s the guaranteed way to achieve the opposite goal and destroy ourselves. We have gone through a number of years that were not easy – even hard – but we withstood it together. I did this against those who wanted to uproot us from here and you, each one of you in your settlements.”
Netanyahu told the Netiv Ha’avot families that it was his ideological devotion to the biblical land of their forefathers that had given him the strength to withstand the police investigations against him.
“People ask me all the time how can you withstand the investigations and attacks against your family. I want to tell that I can withstand it and my family can withstand it because of this place. Because I feel like I have a mission, otherwise a person could not muster the necessary strength,” the prime minister said.
The Jewish people have lived in this place for over 3,000 years and this community guards the southern gate to Jerusalem, which is Israel’s ancient and modern capital, he said.
The demolition of the homes was a “mishap” that occurred because Israel is a state where the rule of law must be upheld, and the decisions of the court must be obeyed.
“I can’t speak for the High Court, but I can speak for something deeper,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu promised them that their homes would be rebuilt. The premier spoke to the residents in a site of modular homes that had been set up near the outpost after the demolition.
To underscore his point that Jews were rooted to land of Israel, he planted a tree near the modular homes on the outskirts of Elazar. An Israeli flag fluttered on a pole next to the tree.
“This flag is full of meaning and this tree is full of meaning,” Netanyahu said. “They want to uproot us from here – they will not. We will plant more and more. The hand is yet extended and the tree is planted.”
In Migdal Oz, where some of the students are from the United States, he said: “this is your country.”
Netanyahu told the students that Israel has a very special relationship with the US, because its ties are not based on mutual interest but mutual values.
The visit was designed to help Netanyahu build bridges with the national-religious community and settlers, who have felt he has not done enough to strengthen Judea and Samaria.
In advance of his visit, some settlers hung signs along his route, reminding him that they want him to legalize 70 West Bank outposts.
One sign noted that the New Right Party believes in the application of sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. It’s a move that Netanyahu has not supported.
While Netanyahu visited Gush Etzion, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from the New Right Party spoke of the importance of legalizing those fledgling communities.
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