Settlers not fazed by pullout plan

Psagot head says views shift easily on which settlements will be inside fence.

ofra settlement 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ofra settlement 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Kadima's talk of withdrawal doesn't panic those determined settlers who have been battling the state for more than two decades to secure a Jewish future in Judea and Samaria. For them, it is just one more bump on a long road. "If I had a shekel for every time the papers printed that we were going to be evacuated, I would be a millionaire," Yehuda Glick of Otniel told The Jerusalem Post. Otniel, and its 130 families located outside the security fence, is one of nine settlements named that Kadima would evacuate if elected, according to plans the party announced on Sunday. Other communities on the list were Elon Moreh, Yitzhar, Itamar, Shiloh, Psagot, Tekoa, Pnei Hever and Ma'on.
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Glick dismissed the latest evacuation plan, even though he witnessed first-hand the pullout from Gaza last summer. He was one of the many activists who stood with the evacuees as they were taken from their homes. He remains hopeful that Hamas's election victory would sway Israelis not to make any further concessions. Reuven Pinsky, the administrative head of Psagot, is making a similar bet. He calculates that if Kadima makes good on its plan to include the 300-family settlement on its list, that would put Hamas right next to the Jerusalem neighborhoods of French Hill and Ramat Eshkol. He maintains this belief even though the government now plans to place Psagot outside the security fence. Pinsky noted how easily opinions shift when it comes to which settlements will be included inside the fence and said that there had been talk lately of keeping Psagot inside. Having survived seven evacuations back in the 1970s when he first worked to form the settlement of Elon Moreh, Benny Katzover was not exactly surprised to hear that a Kadima-led government might destroy it. "It's not the first time, it's nothing new," he told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Still, like other settlement leaders, he was surprised that the Hamas-led PA had changed nothing on this score. "It's hard to believe that people would reward terror," he said. Katzover couldn't help noting the irony that 30 years ago his partners in the battle for the settlement were Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Even though the settlement of 250 families is outside the security fence, he has faith now, as he did back then, that it will survive. While Kadima's evacuation plan for the nine settlements didn't panic their residents, the party's plan to hold on to the settlements of Ofra and Beit El, located outside the security fence, did not cause settlers there to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Moshe Rosenbaum, who heads the Beit El Council, said he was placing his faith that he would remain in his home in God, with or without the fence and irrespective of what any politician might say. The issue is not a question of whether this settlement or that settlement would be evacuated, said Rosenbaum. The point is that any withdrawal, no matter where it might be, harms all the settlements in Judea and Samaria, Rosenbaum said. With this in mind, the Binyamin Regional Council already has a program called "taking the future into our hands," designed to help prevent any further evacuations, said its head Pinchas Wallerstein. First and foremost it was pushing voters to chose right-wing parties that would protect the settlements. In addition, as was done before the Gaza evacuation, it is encouraging Israelis to visit the Binyamin area so that they will better understand its connection to Israel.