The Knesset Land of Israel Caucus called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to defend Israel’s right to a united Jerusalem and the West Bank, as he headed to Washington DC on Sunday to meet with US President Barack Obama.
Fifteen lawmakers from the Likud, Bayit Yehudi and United Torah Judaism signed the letter, including caucus chairmen Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, and coalition and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud).
The letter says the MKs support Netanyahu but ask him to “clarify to the Honorable President that the State of Israel has a historic and legal right to hold and build in united Jerusalem and the regions of Judea and Samaria.
“The Israeli public, whom we were elected to represent, demands that this right be exercised and put into practice, and sees American opposition to building [in those areas] as unreasonable in the framework of relations between the two countries,” the letter reads.
The caucus said Netanyahu’s trip to the US should be guided by the following quote by ancient Jewish leader Simon the Hasmonean: “We did not take a foreign land and did not rule the property of strangers; rather the land of our fathers was taken unjustly, and now that we have the opportunity, we have returned it to us.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, citing the terrorism of the past weeks, criticized the prime minister’s reported plan to propose during his talks with Obama, that Israel implement a series of goodwill gestures towards the Palestinians.
“I read about the desire to grant ‘gestures’ to the Palestinians.
We are in the middle of a wave of terrorism. Giving gestures is like pouring fire on the bonfire of terror,” Bennett wrote on Twitter.
The Bayit Yehudi chairman added: “We can demand gestures from them: Stop murdering and inciting.”
Smotrich took the message another step and tweeted: “It is unfortunate that we are continuing to sit in his government without demanding and enforcing a change in policy.”
The Bayit Yehudi MK posited that without his party “there is no government.”
“That gives us a lot of power,” he added. “The time has come for us to use it.”
Bayit Yehudi faction chairman Yinon Magal, a signatory of the Land of Israel Caucus letter, tweeted back: “That is certainly a very serious matter that will come up in [Monday’s] faction meeting.”