'Say 'No' to US settlement pressure'

Hundreds of right-wing protesters, MKs rally outside PM's house in J'lem; activists erect new outposts.

right wing rally 248 88 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
right wing rally 248 88
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Calling on Israel to simply say "no" to US pressure to freeze settlement activity and to divide the capital, close to a thousand people rallied outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Jerusalem home Monday evening. "People tell us that it is impossible to stand up against American pressure; there is no bigger lie," yelled out Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, which helped to organize the event. It was timed to coincide with US envoy George Mitchell's visit to Israel. Netanyahu's government should be concerned with its election promises to support the settlements, rather than with its obligations to the US, Dayan said. This government has an obligation to return Israel to the Zionist path of settling the land, he said. Prior to the rally Dayan told The Jerusalem Post he hoped "Netanyahu will learn lessons from those who preceded him." He added that "David Ben-Gurion founded Israel in spite of American pressure... Menachem Begin destroyed Osirak in spite of American opposition, and Yitzhak Shamir rejected American demands to stop construction." Demonstrators held signs that said, "Yes to Israeli Independence! No to American Demands!" Other signs read, "Israel will not fold." Holding aloft a banner bearing the legend "Stop Screwing Israel," Zvi November of Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem told the Post: "All of the land of Israel belongs to Am Yisrael... There are 22 Arab states comprising five and a quarter million square miles of land - they don't need ours." He questioned the "American foreign policy that has given rise to former Fatah terrorists now working as policemen being given AK-47 semi-automatic rifles." MK Uri Ariel (National Union) told the Post: "There's no place in the world where Jews are unable to build themselves a home, but America doesn't want to allow us to build here - we are here to protest the American interference on this matter." MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said, "We are hoping to change the perfect silence characterized by those elected to Netanyahu's government on the supposition that they are faithful to Israel and Israel's best interests. It is clear that Netanyahu is on the verge of total collapse and MKs like [Israel Beiteinu's Uzi] Landau and [the Likud's Gideon] Sa'ar, who were regarded as rebels because they were against the disengagement, are now silent on this issue. "At the best they will voice quiet opposition to American attempts to dictate to Israel, but this is a time when we need to be strong," Eldad told the Post. Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said Israel was not fighting with the US about outposts or settlement building, but rather about its right to exist. The only place Palestinians wanted to see Israelis was in the sea, said Mesika. Jerusalem city councilman Yakir Segev, who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio in the municipality, told the crowd: "We have to defend Jerusalem with our hearts, with action, with our souls. We must defend it to allow every single Israeli Jew and Arab to walk freely in his land, the State of Israel." Even as settler leaders, politicians and supporters rallied in the capital, other activists spent the day in Judea and Samaria trying to set up new outposts as part of an overall strategy by the Land of Israel Faithful group to expand Jewish holdings in the West Bank. For the past two years the group has held events in which it has laid the groundwork for new outposts in eight sites. On Monday it started a two-day action to strengthen three of those sites and begin eight new ones. At one called Netzer, located between the Elazar and Alon Shvut settlements in Gush Etzion, border policemen dispersed a group of 15 teens who had gathered there and detained three of them. The IDF placed a jeep at either end of the dirt path that leads to the site and declared the area a closed military zone. Two other teens were detained by police at a site called Inbalmin, near the Ma'aleh Michmash settlement in the Binyamin region. At a hilltop outside of the Avnei Hefetz settlement in Samaria, however, former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss said that some hundred activists managed to gather near a new outpost site. Activists would return on Tuesday to the three sites as well as to eight others in Judea and Samaria, she said.