Concerned for Palestinian quality of life, settler leader opposes checkpoints
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Concerned for Palestinian quality of life, settler leader opposes checkpoints

New Yesha Council chairman Hananel Dorani says he objects to permanent roadblocks around Palestinian towns

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Hananel Dorani attends a press conference at the protest tent of Beit El residents in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Hananel Dorani attends a press conference at the protest tent of Beit El residents in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 25, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The chairman of the Yesha settlement umbrella council on Wednesday said he opposed the institution of permanent checkpoints around Palestinian towns.

“I opposes the security concept of placing checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, which will harm the quality of life of innocent Palestinians,” he said.

In the aftermath of terror attacks, Dorani said, “security needs outweigh civilian needs.” But he stressed the necessary short-term measures should not be made permanent.

The Yesha chairman’s views were in line with those of the Israeli security establishment which has long viewed improving Palestinian quality of life as an Israeli interest.

Dorani emphasized that the settler body has full confidence in the Israeli security forces and their conduct in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Yesha Council leaders at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on September 27, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The comments given in a briefing to reporters at the Yesha Council’s Jerusalem  office came amid calls by far-right settlers to re-impose the measure.

Last week, over 100 settlers led by the far-right Otzma Yehudit group temporarily blocked the entrances to Nablus in a protest calling on the IDF to reinstate permanent checkpoints around the Palestinian city following the fatal shooting of Raziel Shevach outside the nearby Havat Gilad outpost last week.

The IDF has dismantled the vast majority of checkpoints in the West Bank over the past decade.

The Yesha chairman’s words sparked anger against the more right-wing settler flank, with Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan claiming, “the terrorists who murdered Raziel Shevach would not have been able to escape.

“The checkpoints were removed, not out of security considerations, but due to political pressure from the Obama Administration,” Dagan said in a statement.

Separately during Tuesday’s briefing, Dorani commented on recent campaigns by groups of settlers — Dagan among them — calling for the paving of bypass roads around Palestinian towns. While the Yesha chairman said he unequivocally supported this effort and was involved in it as well, Dorani cautioned settlers to avoid casting the issue as a security matter.

“We are in a safe period,” he said, arguing that the necessity for infrastructure improvements stem from road safety, not the security of the residents.

Settlers say the roads, which would circumvent Palestinian population centers, are integral for their safety, citing terror attacks that have taken place on roads that run through Palestinian villages.

But opponents of the new roads say they are discriminatory, arguing that bypass roads encourage the establishment of illegal outposts and are sometimes paved on private Palestinian land.

This was Dorani’s first briefing with reporters since taking over as chairman of the Yesha Council in November. He was elected mayor of the Kedumim settlement in 2007 and continues to serve in that capacity.

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