Netanyahu, settlers battle over West Bank roads

Settler leaders say public has tired of broken promises, threaten campaign to demand increased security.

Israeli pedestrians stand on a roadside near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat (photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
Israeli pedestrians stand on a roadside near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
A pledge by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s on Sunday to build more West Bank roads did little to assuage settler anger over what they claim is his failure to turn promises into action.
Settlers leaders had sent Netanyahu a letter demanding that he advance utility and road projects in the West Bank and are frustrated that such projects are not on the agenda of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, which is slated to meet this Monday to Wednesday to advance plans for 3,763 new settler homes.
Netanyahu pledged at the Likud ministerial meeting on Sunday to advance a solution for bypass roads in the West Bank as soon as possible, even if that meant making wide-ranging budget cuts in government offices. His words, however, fell on deaf ears.
“I think someone is trying to lead us by the nose. We have been promised these bypass roads time and again,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan told the media after the meeting.
“We have plenty of promises, but no [new] roads. We will not continue to make do with promises,” he said, adding that what was needed was a firm date with regard to action on the matter.
This is an issue that goes beyond partisan politics, Dagan said.
“The security of Judea and Samaria residents can’t be abandoned.
If need be, we will embark on a campaign to prevent the next murder and terrorist attack,” Dagan said, adding that the roads are needed for security reasons.
Likud ministers attending the meeting also took Netanyahu to task, claiming he had exaggerated the amount of real planing and building for settler homes that was actually happening. The prime minister has repeatedly claimed there is no one who has done more for settlement development than he has.
The premier pledged his dedication to the settlement movement when he attended celebratory ceremonies in the Samaria and Gush Etzion regions in recent months to mark 50 years of the settlement movement. On Thursday, he will travel to the Jordan Valley to speak at its 50th anniversary jubilee ceremony