A field trip in Pisgat Yaakov settlement 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On September 26, with much fanfare and the rapt attention of the international
media, the 10-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria came to an
end. Or so the world was led to believe.
Yes, we have made
considerable efforts to reverse the enormous damage of this wasted 10 months of
potential growth. Yet the harsh reality is that the freeze essentially remains
Particularly in the larger communities like Ma’aleh Adumim,
Ariel, Karnei Shomron and Betar Illit, the government has refused to issue the
necessary tenders to enable us to build as we should be legally and morally
Let there be no doubt why these tenders haven’t been issued.
The government’s inaction is the result of the joint policies of Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who would rather try to
appease the Obama administration than address the legitimate housing needs of
those they represent.
In recent days, we have witnessed a renewed volley
of pronouncements opposing construction voiced by the prime
When the government cranks out statements opposing the
legitimate development needs of our communities, the fear is that it will soon
return to its default policy of a strict freeze, motivated by a somewhat
pathetic quest to appease foreign governments.
Beyond the obvious harm
these policies do to the families living in Judea and Samaria, the most painful
aspect is when we recognize how pointless a process these freezes truly are. Any
objective observer will quickly conclude that the building freeze achieved
absolutely nothing in terms of advancing trust from the Palestinian side. In
fact, we are likely at the coldest point in years in terms of our relationship
So while the global mantra to cease building continues,
our government meekly caves in to these demands rather than defend our national
interests and right to self-governance. The Palestinians know better than
anyone that the conflict has nothing to do with house or school
Having grown accustomed to masterfully manipulating
international opinion for their benefit, the Palestinians have put it in the
minds of world leaders that the desire to expand my porch is the central issue
that has precluded us from reaching a peace agreement. Conveniently ignored, of
course, is the Palestinians’ historic contempt for Israel, manifested by a
refusal to recognize our right to exist as a Jewish state.
influenced only by international pressure, the calls to cease building in our
homeland have been accompanied in recent days by forced dismantling of
Most regrettable were the actions taken by the police, who relied
on excessive violence, including the use of special bullets defined as
“lesslethal,” in an attempt to silence demonstrators protesting these forced
evacuations. This represents the crossing of an implicit red line that should
never be crossed again.
Within the protests aroused by this police
behavior, a few incidents of the so-called price-tag occurred, damaging the
property of innocents. I denounce such actions, and believe this small
collection of people should be punished to the fullest extent of the
Yet, while the media all too often fall into the trap of conveying
the message that such illegal actions are typical of the settler movement,
nothing could be further from the truth.
The illegal and unacceptable
activities of a tiny minority do not, and never will, reflect the will or values
of the majority of the people who live in these areas. These Israelis in fact
desire quiet and peaceful coexistence with our neighbors, and the right to meet
their families’ needs without provocation or incitement.
As a proud,
patriotic community that understands a strong and protected Judea and Samaria is
central to preserving a strong and protected Israel, we cannot be
We will act responsibly and within the boundaries of legitimate
protest in a democratic society. At the same time, we are determined to defend
our interests, which are Israel’s too, and ensure that the vision of growth and
prosperity that has always defined the people of Judea and Samaria will continue
to serve as our legacy – both for our benefit and the benefit of all Israelis-
whether they might be found.The writer is chairman of the Council of
Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria.