Settlement activists plan to build 30 outposts this summer

Land of Israel Faithful group say decision is response to Netanyahu's Bar Ilan speech.

Daniella Weiss hebron 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Daniella Weiss hebron 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The Land of Israel Faithful group said Monday it has a plan to construct 30 new outposts in the West Bank over the summer, in response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech a day earlier in which he said that no new settlements would be built and no additional land would be expropriated for settlement development. Former Kedumim mayor Daniella Weiss, one of the leaders of the Land of Israel Faithful, told The Jerusalem Post her group was recruiting activists for this summer's outpost building. It plans to erect outposts between the settlements of Ofra and Shiloh, in Gush Etzion, near Hebron and near the settlements of Elon Moreh and Bracha. Weiss's group has been building and rebuilding eight outposts for the past two years, after many of them were dismantled multiple times by the security forces. Earlier this month, for example, security personnel took down eight structures at the Maoz Esther outpost. It has since been almost completely rebuilt. A synagogue and five homes have been placed at the site. These fledgling outposts, which are not part of the 105 unauthorized outposts recorded by independent attorney Talia Sasson in her 2005 report to the government, lack the infrastructure of those older, more permanent outposts. The new construction is also of a more temporary nature, consisting of wooden shacks instead of the usual modular homes. Weiss said she was not concerned that by pushing to build at more sites, the Land of Israel Faithful would weaken those eight outposts it has been trying to establish for two years. "I have learned from experience that if you create new things, it strengthens the old ones," she said. Weiss said that while Netanyahu, in the speech at Bar-Ilan University, endorsed construction in the established settlements, in light of his offer of a Palestinian state, action had to be taken to strengthen the Jewish hold on the West Bank. Separately, Pinchas Wallerstein, the director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, left Monday for the US to lobby for support for settlement construction. He told the Post the trip had been planned months before the speech and that he often went to the US to seek support for the settlements. Although Wallerstein had harsh words for Netanyahu's endorsement of a Palestinian state, he said that he, too, understood from the speech that construction was possible in the settlements and that he hoped the prime minister's words turned into action soon. He was joined in his optimism with regard to settlement construction by the mayors of two settlement cities, Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel. Ariel Mayor Ran Nachman said that when it came to construction he was glad that Netanyahu had appeared to stand firm against America. In referring to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments last week that settlement construction should stop, Nachman said, "Who is this Hillary Clinton? History will wipe her out." He noted that his city, unlike other settlements in the West Bank, in the last five years had only grown through births, yet despite this it lacked the necessary number of new apartments. The fact that his city actually met the so-called requirement for "natural growth" only, had not brought about peace with the Palestinians, Nachman said. He spoke with the Post at the tail end of a tour he had given to Dave Saltzman, a visitor from Princeton, New Jersey, who was visiting both a settlement and Israel for the first time. Saltzman told the Post he had been surprised by how developed and beautiful Ariel was. He had expected something out of Lawrence of Arabia and instead found himself in a modern city. "It just seems to me that anything we do to stop this city from growing doesn't make sense," he said.