Settler leaders: Freeze protests to begin after Rosh Hashana

Local council heads hold emergency meeting in Karnei Shomron.

settlement 88 (photo credit: )
settlement 88
(photo credit: )
After an emergency meeting in the northern Samaria settlement of Karnei Shomron on Thursday afternoon, local council heads together with the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip announced that they would begin a sit-in strike outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's official residence after Rosh Hashana, to protest any freeze on construction in the West Bank. "The right for Jews to build in Judea and Samaria is an undeniable one," Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shaul Goldstein said during a press conference held after the meeting. "And the Likud Party has to hold to the promises it made before the election. Bibi Netanyahu needs to go back to being the Bibi Netanyahu he was before the election." According to Goldstein and other settler leaders present at the meeting, the sit-in will be the beginning of a large campaign aimed at breaking any type of settlement freeze, and will be accompanied by efforts to apply more pressure on politicians, particularly those from the Likud. "Ninety-nine percent of the the Likud MKs support us and support the right of Jews to build here," Goldstein said. "And while our aim is not to topple the prime minister - we certainly don't want [Kadima head] Tzipi Livni to become the country's leader - we do want to remind Netanyahu that the majority of his party members oppose any kind of settlement freeze." On Wednesday, Likud lawmakers opposed to a settlement freeze, - among them Government Services Minister Michael Eitan, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon - were conspicuously absent from a rally organized at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters by the Council of Jewish Communities to protest against plans to freeze Jewish construction beyond the Green Line, mainly because it was described by the organizers as a "revolt" against the prime minister. A number of other Likud MKs, however, including Danny Danon, Yariv Levin and Tzipi Hotovely, did take part in the event. "This is a rally of the Likud's reawakening after the dangerous leftward slide of our leadership," Danon told the crowd during the event. "We are here to stop the drifting and tell the prime minister, 'The Likud is with you if you build in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem and resist American pressure.'" If the public had wanted "weak, surrendering leadership," Livni would have been elected, Danon said. All Netanyahu gained by shifting leftward was the temporary adulation of the press, he said. Hotovely mocked the ministers and MKs who didn't show up at the event. Straying from her prepared text, she said that she recently signed 14 Likud lawmakers onto a petition against freezing settlement construction and that all 14 of them should have been there. "If it was before an election, I am sure the room would be full of MKs and ministers," she said. "The Land of Israel is not just important before elections. We won't let our voice be silenced. We who are loyal to the Likud's principles are the majority in the faction, despite what happened tonight." Settler leaders on Thursday said they wouldn't be swayed by the low turnout at Wednesday's event. While they didn't go into specifics, the leaders said their upcoming campaign of protest would be powerful, steadfast and unified. "We're saying that now we are one voice," Goldstein said. "And we will do whatever it takes to ensure that building and construction continue in Judea and Samaria." Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.