In reaction to the amount of flak that the settler movement is receiving due to the actions and incitement of some of the extremists in its midst and in sympathy with its recurring security problems, President Reuven Rivlin invited council heads from Judea and Samaria to meet with him on Monday to share their grievances and to toast the incoming New Year.
Headed by Yesha Council chairman Avi Roeh, a delegation of slightly under 20 members of the Yesha Council met with Rivlin at his official residence in Jerusalem on Monday.
Speaking to journalists prior to the meeting, Roeh said that the settler movement was bearing the brunt of the actions of a few radicals, and was sometimes tarred with a brush of racism and intolerance based on actions by individuals who had nothing whatsoever to do with the settler movement, but was the fall-out of overly patriotic non-settlers.
The settler movement was a pioneering movement that was in the national front line of defense, and had been encouraged and supported by a series of both right and left wing governments, said Roeh.
Asked whether he agreed with the assessment of former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak that current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weak and unable to make tough decisions, Roeh declined to associate himself with Barak’s remarks, but said that Netanyahu was making a mistake in bowing to European and American pressure with regard to construction in the settlements, because additional housing is essential for the growing population. “Bibi is not adhering to his own agenda,” said Roeh. “He speaks of strengthening the settlement movement, but does the opposite. His attitude is inconsistent with his declared policy.”
When speaking later to Rivlin, Roeh voiced appreciation for the president’s support of the settlement movement and emphasized that despite the rifts in Israeli society which have been exacerbated in recent weeks and months, it was important to be united on issues of Israel’s legitimate right to exist.
It was vital for this point to be made, he said, because there are so many who question Israel’s legitimacy.
Rivlin, who has been a keen supporter of the settlement movement likewise referred to its pioneering spirit, and characterized the settlement movement as an expression of the ancestral right of the Jewish people.
Mindful of the current wave of terrorism, Rivlin said that it was imperative to fight terror, but that all actions in this respect must be within the framework of the law and in accordance with strict moral codes.
He praised the settlement movement as being Israel’s front line together with the IDF, and noted the extent to which it has to pay a heavy price in coping with harsh terrorist attacks.