Settlers protest in J'lem as PM heads to NY

Settlers protest as PM h

baruch marzel diapers 248 88 AP (photo credit: )
baruch marzel diapers 248 88 AP
(photo credit: )
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has "turned Israel into the sucker of the region," settler leader Dani Dayan said on Monday. He spoke as he sat in the large, white protest tent he had helped erect outside the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and as Netanyahu headed to New York for a summit on Tuesday with US President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. To help Netanyahu say "no" to American pressure to freeze building in the settlements, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip set up the tent, which it plans to keep in place until after the meeting. "We want to influence events before they happen," Dayan told The Jerusalem Post. Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin, who represents the right wing of Netanyahu's Likud Party, visited the settler leaders in the tent almost immediately after their arrival. It's a positive sign that the summit will be held even though the prime minister did not cede to Abbas's precondition that work stop on some 2,500 homes now under construction in Judea and Samaria, said Begin, who was the first politician to arrive in the tent. It is "now clear to everyone that the government of Israel cannot accept and does not accept any preconditions for the onset of negotiations between the government of Israel and its neighbors," he said. The chances of peace are remote, however, as long as the Palestinians continue to call for "the liquidation of the Zionist entity," as they did during Fatah's sixth General Assembly, which was held in Bethlehem in August, said Begin. The much-touted two-state solution is actually a two-stage process to achieve that aim, first by establishing a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and then by allowing the entry of millions of Palestinian refugees into Israel within the Green Line, he said. It's a move that would kill the idea of a Jewish state, he added. "The world at large, and especially our friends, should understand whom we are trying to do business with," Begin said. He joined settler leaders in their call to Netanyahu to allow construction to move forward in Judea and Samaria, so that life could continue normally. Avi Naim, who heads the joint local council of the Beit Aryeh and Ofarim settlements, east of Shoham and north of Modi'in, called on the prime minister to remember his campaign pledge to Likud voters. Naim, himself a member of the party, said he had come to the tent to strengthen Netanyahu so that he could firmly stand on his principles. "This is a test of our sovereignty," Naim said. Hisdai Eliezer, who is secular and heads the local council in Alfei Menashe, just east of Kalkilya, said that should Netanyahu fail to stand strong in New York, he will face strong opposition upon his return. "And not just from those who wear kippot," said Eliezer. Far-right activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel arrived at the protest tent on Monday bearing disposable diapers, which they said symbolized the fact that Netanyahu "doesn't have the stomach" to deal with Obama. Other politicians who came to the tent included Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and MKs Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union). Knesset speaker Ruby Rivlin (Likud) is expected to visit on Tuesday. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.