Peace Now: Building will ‘ruin Israel’

‘If we resume construction, blood will be spilled,’ former MK Mossi Raz tells demonstrators outside PM’s residence.

peace now settlement rally 311 (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
peace now settlement rally 311
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Thirty Peace Now activists gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Sunday afternoon for a last-minute expression of opposition to the end of the 10-month construction moratorium in the West Bank.
The slogan for the protest was “Building in the Settlements will destroy Israel.”
“Even though it’s clear to everyone that the right thing to do is to freeze the construction, regretfully, the government is not demonstrating that they understand,” Yariv Oppenheimer, the general-director of Peace Now, told The Jerusalem Post. “Maybe the prime minister is just checking to see what will happen, but I’m worried that this check-up is coming at the expense of the state’s best interests.”
Peace Now estimates that 2,066 housing units can be started once the moratorium ends, and more than 11,000 units need only the approval of the local municipality.
Activists tried to engage passersby in dialogue about the issues for about two hours before politicians and Peace Now leaders took to the microphone to protest the impending end of the freeze, pleading for “just three more months.”
Speakers included Alon Liel, a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, and former Meretz MKs Mossi Raz and Ran Cohen.
“This is a critical day,” Cohen said. “Now the road to peace seems open, and we don’t need to close it.”
He urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “look deep inside himself and see what’s good for Israel and make the right decision.”
“If we continue building, blood will be spilled, this will not go quietly,” Raz warned the crowd.
“The past period of 10 months was one of the quietest since 1967,” he said later.
“Yes, there were incidents, and there will be more incidents, but here we don’t have a choice between really good and really bad. We can choose the option that’s the least bad.
And that’s what we need to do.”
Across the street from the Peace Now protest a lone counter-protester waved a giant Israeli flag and chanted, “They want to build, yes, they will build!” during much of the speeches.
“I came so someone could remind them where they live,” said Tal Semo, 27, a resident of the Nili settlement east of Modi’in who has been living with his parents and planned to start construction on his own home at midnight.
“It’s enough, this nation chose a specific government with a specific agenda. And they think just because they get money from Europe they can change what we want to do with the country,” Semo said.
Though the Peace Now supporters seemed mostly resigned to the idea that the freeze would end, many held on to a shred of hope that something would change in the few hours before the moratorium was due to end.
“This has to be a country where our grandchildren can live,” said activist Dr. Nechama Ben-Eliahu, whose granddaughter was one of 17 people killed by a Hamas suicide bomber on a No. 14A Egged bus in the capital’s Jaffa Road on June 11, 2003.
“I would like to be optimistic, but I’m not. I hope the prime minister will find the necessary mental strength to do the right thing,” Ben-Eliahu said.