Ideological split drives settler leaders to quit

Hesdai298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Settler leaders Tuesday downplayed the resignations of the sole secular representative, Hasdai Eliezer, and of well-known Gush Etzion leader Shaul Goldstein. Both deputy chairmen believe they have ideologically parted ways with the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, citing this as the reason for their resignations. Eliezer said he was disappointed that he had failed to to strengthen the council's ties to the secular residents of Judea and Samaria. "The council needs to enlarge its agenda beyond the battle over outposts," said Eliezer, who announced his resignation this week after four years in the post. Following Eliezer's announcement, Goldstein, who had also been a deputy chairman for six years, also let it be known that he had resigned several months ago without publicizing it. Eliezer told The Jerusalem Post that the council should be fighting to strengthen existing settlements rather than worrying about the fledgling ones. He was upset that the council was not able to keep a lid on the violence conducted by its own protesters during the destruction of nine homes in Amona earlier this month. Overall, he had found that he had not been able to influence decision-making and did not want to continue to hold a post where he lacked influence. Eliezer said he remained a council member and maintained his position as the head of the council of his home settlement of Alfei Menashe. Goldstein, similarly, remains a council member and the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council. He had been among those who had gone to stand with the settlers as they were being evacuated, but even before the disengagement, he said, he had contemplated leaving. He felt that the council needed to widen its agenda to include the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley as well as other priorities such as education and poverty; now that disengagement was over, he felt such a shift in attitude was even more important. Council leaders said they agreed with the principle of a wider agenda, but that this was not the moment to shift away from the immediate priority of preserving Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, which was in peril due to the policies of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.