Dani Dayan 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Worried that his home could be given to the Palestinians, Jordan Valley Regional
Council Chairman David Lahiani has asked for an emergency meeting with Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to clarify the status of his region in any future
RELATED:Pressure mounts on PM to reject US ‘benefits package’Mitchell: Neither side wants to stop direct talks
“I hope I will hear from him,” a concerned Lahiani told The
Jerusalem Post on Sunday evening, after waiting for more than two days with no
response from the prime minister.
Lahiani first heard of the possibility
that giving up the Jordan Valley was part of Israel’s debate with the US, from
media reports Thursday night, which speculated that US President Barack Obama
had penned a letter to Netanyahu in which he promised to allow Israeli troops to
remain in the Jordan Valley after a final-status agreement is reached with the
A denial from the White House that such a letter exists has
done little to assuage the fears of settlers like Lahiani, who believe that the
substance of the alleged letter was raised with Netanyahu, even if it was never
actually set down in writing.
Settlers have continued to heavily lobby
ministers to ensure that they do not support any deal that Netanyahu might make
with the US in an effort to keep the Palestinians at the negotiating
Settlers who last week marked the end of the 10- month moratorium
on new construction in the settlements found this week that instead of pushing
for permits to allow more building, they are still fighting for the right to
execute already authorized construction.
“We are in a critical week,”
said Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria
and the Gaza Strip.
The issue of settlement construction is far from
settled, said Dayan, who explained, “This is not like a soccer game in which the
referee says the game is over. We have to be on guard 24/7.”
statement he issued to the media Sunday, he warned that US pledges to Israel in
exchange for a two-month extension of the moratorium were offerings of poisoned
“It is a poison pill wrapped in colorful paper to make it look
attractive and appealing,” Dayan said.
Accepting the US proposal would be
tantamount to conceding the Jordan Valley even before the negotiations have
gotten under way, Dayan said.
“Otherwise why would you need an agreement
[with the US] that [Israeli] troops can be stationed there?” he
It’s like announcing that Israel plans to return to the pre-1967
border, which is not defensible, he said.
The incentives offered here are
an attempt to strip Israel of its assets before the negotiations, in a way that
weakens Israel before it gets to the issues of Jerusalem, refugees and water,
He warned that if this strategy succeeds, Israelis would need
a tourist visa to visit the Western Wall.
The council also directly
appealed to Obama to allow Israel to act in its own self-interest and to stand
true to commitments made by past US administrations.
threatening to completely disregarded promises made by the Bush administration,
so we cannot count on his new so-called assurances,” Dayan said. “For an ally of
Israel to act in such a manner signals a further troubling new direction by the
American president and we would urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to stand strong
and continue to respect the vital needs of his people.”
warned Netanyahu that he “must first serve his own nation, and he cannot choose
the American president’s will over that of the Israeli people.”
council’s director-general, Naftali Bennett, added that it was difficult to
trust any letter that Obama might pen, given that he had dismissed the written
pledges his predecessor, George W. Bush, had given Israel with regard to the
“If each president ignores and erases the commitments
of the previous one, why should we take on this new promise?” Bennett
He added that if Israel backs down from its pledge to let the
moratorium expire, “there will be no more value or meaning to our word,
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.