Homesh: 'A settlement renewal point'

Low public morale is giving way towards settler's Greater Israel ideology.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
With the Israeli public's morale at an all-time low, now is the time to launch a new bid for increased settlement activity in Judea and Samaria, with Homesh as a rallying point, Benny Katzover, former chairman of the Samaria Regional Council and a founder of Gush Emunim, said Thursday. A huge demonstration at Homesh, one of four northern Samaria settlements evacuated during disengagement in August 2005, was being planned for this summer, when high schools and yeshivot are on vacation, said Katzover. He said he was lending his rich experience in settlement activism to the younger generation of settlement leaders. "It's time to change our political direction and raise the patriotic flag of Greater Israel," Katzover told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem Day, which celebrates Israel's victory in the Six Day War and the unification of Jerusalem. "Returning to Homesh is the right move at the right time." The interview was meant to be a retrospective on four decades of settlement activity in Judea and Samaria, but Katzover quickly turned to his plans for the future. He hopes to use Homesh, he said, as a rallying point for the creation of a new settlement movement modeled after Gush Emunim. This new movement, said Katzover, would unite smaller organizations such as Komimyut, Women in Green, Mateh Tzafon, Lev Yehudi and the numerous hesder yeshivot, pre-military academies and youth groups such as Bnei Akiva and Ariel, in a single grassroots undercurrent that would sweep the nation with a call to renew efforts to increase the Jewish population in the West Bank. "If we can increase the Jewish population to one million, there will be no more talk about a Jewish state and terrorist groups will lose hope and give up violence," said Katzover. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 268,379 Jews lived in Judea, Samaria in 2006. On Independence Day, tens of thousands marched to Homesh in a show of support for reestablishing the settlement. A month earlier, the IDF had authorized a few thousand settlement supporters to enter Homesh for 24 hours. Last Friday, the IDF foiled a group of settlers' attempt to spend Shabbat at Homesh. Soldiers were forced to desecrate Shabbat to remove them. Katzover is convinced that in the wake of the Winograd Report and the numerous charges of corruption or sexual offenses leveled against leading politicians and public figures, the public is looking for a return to a more wholesome, ideological leadership. Katzover helped establish numerous settlements around Samaria, including his home - the flagship Samarian settlement Eilon Moreh, near Nablus. "When Israelis are content and indifferent it is nearly impossible to have an impact on public opinion," said Katzover. "But I think now people are aware they are lost, ideologically speaking. We can show them the way."