New Binyamin Regional Council head calls for strategic action on settlements
“This is a day of joy mixed with a lot of sadness.”
By TOVAH LAZAROFFUpdated: NOVEMBER 1, 2018 01:45
The day after his victory in the polls, new Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz went to the funeral of the eight members of the Atar family, who had lived in his home community of Psagot.“This is a day of joy mixed with a lot of sadness,” Ganz told the media on Wednesday, as he spoke briefly of the two parents and six children who were killed in a deadly car crash by the Dead Sea on Election Day.“The Psagot community lost a beloved family in a terrible disaster that has broken our hearts. All of us, all the inhabitants of Binyamin, bow their heads and mourn this inconceivable loss,” Ganz said.“In light of the heavy grief that has descended upon us, we will not celebrate the big win today. However, I would like to thank all the residents of Binyamin who have put their faith in me,” to build a better future for the region, he said.Ganz, who was deputy head of the council for the last five years, replaces Avi Ro’eh who headed the council for the past 10 years.A father of seven, Ganz has twice been forcibly evacuated by the government. First, when he was four years old and his family lived in the Yamit settlement, and then again when he lived in Nissanit, one of the 21 Gaza settlements evacuated in 2005.Ganz grew up in the Kiryat Arba settlement.Advertisement“Now the time is ripe for the second generation to take the reins and establish a new order in Binyamin,” he wrote on his website.Among his top goals when he enters his post next month, Ganz told The Jerusalem Post, is to improve the roads in his region, many of which are inadequate for the flow of traffic. He also plans to establish a strategic unit that would plan for the Binyamin region’s future.Like many settler leaders, he is a firm believer in the need to impose Israeli sovereignty on Area C of the West Bank. But even before that, he said, the government can do more to take responsibility for the area and normalize life for its residents.Overall during Tuesday’s election, there were 24 seats of power up for grab in Judea and Samaria, which has a population of around 400,000. Elections took place in four Jewish cities, six regional councils and 14 councils.The settler voters overwhelmingly favored male candidates and incumbents, electing only six new leaders, two of whom were in races where the incumbents had already said they planned to step down.In one of the more stunning upsets, Eliyahu Libman beat out Kiryat Arba council head Malachi Levinger, whose father Rabbi Moshe Levinger was one of the central founders of Kiryat Arba. Levinger had headed the council for the last 10 years.In Beit Aryeh, Yehuda Eliyahu Elbaum won over Avi Naim. Nir Bartel beat Shlomi Langer in Oranit, Shay Rosenzweig beat Shlomo Katan in Alfei Menashe and Eliyahu Gafni emerged victorious over Ezra Gershi in Emmanuel.In the open contest in Har Adar, the new council head is Haim Shaked.Gush Etzion Regional Council’s race was too close to call, so a run-off election will be held November 13 between incumbent Shlomo Ne’eman and Moshe Svill.The Interior Ministry does not plan to publish final numbers of voters countrywide or by region until Thursday.