President Shimon Peres_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Adding fuel to the fire when the Middle East is burning endangers the whole
country, President Shimon Peres warned at the conclusion of a meeting with
settler leaders from Judea and Samaria on Thursday.
Peres was referring
to the torching of mosques, the stoning of Palestinian cars and vandalizing of
Palestinian property, as well as physical attacks against innocent Palestinians
by extremist. The conversation dwelt on the crossing of red lines, with
civilians infiltrating an army base and engaging in violence, including stone
throwing against soldiers.
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“For God’s sake, an officer was almost
killed!” exclaimed Peres.
Members of the delegation were concerned that
the settlers of Judea and Samaria were being tarred by the brush of a renegade
Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan said that 99 percent of all
settlers were opposed to such acts of violence and saw no justification for
attacking soldiers or civilians, be they Arab or Jew.
Those who break the
law must be dealt with accordingly, he said.
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Dayan noted that members of
the delegation were soldiers in the IDF reserves and that any one of them, had
he been on duty, could have been attacked and hit by a stone.
Sadan of the Bnei David military preparatory course described the meeting as
“important” and said that despite their differences, members of the delegation
and Peres were in full agreement that the most vital strategy for Israel was
internal unity and a dialogue based on mutual respect.
circumstances should there be an eruption of violence and hatred, he
Emphasizing, as Peres did later, that the IDF is the army of the
people, Sadan noted that students from the preparatory course (who are by and
large religiously observant) serve in all units of the IDF.
consensus among all participants in the discussion that the IDF should be
absolutely free of politics.
Sadan was also pleased to note that in the
course of the discussion, Peres had expressed full confidence and trust in the
loyalty of religiously observant soldiers.
Even after the assassination
of Yitzhak Rabin, said Sadan, Peres distinguished between those who were guilty
of incitement and the rest of the law-abiding settlement movement.
attributed part of the problem to the fact that the Civil Administration was
still dragging its feet on determining where new settlements could be built. As
a result, young people were establishing what are considered to be illegal
settlements that are subsequently demolished by the army, thus creating bad
blood between the young settlers and the IDF.
Noting that nearly all
those present at the meeting were educators, Sadan said that it was important to
remember that the State of Israel was established by all streams of the
population, and that these varied sectors must continue to work together in
mutual respect, regardless of their differences.
Dayan said he detected
an odor of extremism from the other side of the political spectrum, with
increasing demonization and delegitimization of the settler
“Only President Peres can stem this demonization,” he asserted.
“If it continues, the violence will escalate.”
This was not the first
time Peres, one of the architects of Israel’s defense establishment, has spoken
out against assaults on the IDF. To him, it is anathema that any Israeli would
raise a hand against a soldier, and when such incidents occur he gets very
“The IDF is the army of the people with or without kippot,” he
said. “We are proud of the army and owe its soldiers a great debt for risking
their lives on a daily basis in order to guarantee our safety.”
attack the army and who are attacking Palestinians and harming Palestinian
property are giving Arabs and Muslims an excuse to attack Israel, said Peres,
insisting that such behavior be stopped immediately.
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