In shadow of patriarchs, settler leaders gather in Hebron to pray for Trump win

West Bank mayors recite psalms, hoping for four more years; cite incumbent’s recognition of Golan Heights and Jerusalem, support for Israel against threats like Iran and BDS

Hebron spokesman Yishai Fleisher, right, and Marc Zell, the head of Republicans Overseas Israel, blow shofars to show their support for Trump November, 2, 2020. (Courtesy Har Hevron regional council spokesperson)
Hebron spokesman Yishai Fleisher, right, and Marc Zell, the head of Republicans Overseas Israel, blow shofars to show their support for Trump November, 2, 2020. (Courtesy Har Hevron regional council spokesperson)

Settler leaders held a special prayer session Monday outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, at which they thanked US President Donald Trump for his support of the settlement movement and wished him success in Tuesday’s elections.

Psalms and other prayers meant to aid the incumbent president to victory were recited at the Monday event, during which Har Hevron Regional Council chairman Yochai Damri and Marc Zell, the head of Republicans Overseas Israel, blew shofars to show their support for Trump.

At the event, Damri explained why the US president meant so much to the settler movement.

“We came here today to say to President Trump thank you,” he said. “Thank you for your special relationship to the land of Israel, for the recognition of the Golan Heights and of the settlement enterprise. Thank you for your war against Iran and the BDS movement. Thank you for strengthening the settlement of the land of the Bible. We pray and hope that you will continue to another four years of strengthening the settlement enterprise.”

Marc Zell, the head of Republicans Overseas Israel at the Cave of the patriarchs, November 2, 2020. (Courtesy: Har hebron regional council spokesperson)

Kiryat Arba Local Council chairman Eliyahu Libman said, “Trump proved his friendship toward the people of Israel by moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, and recognizing our sovereignty in the Golan Heights and the right of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

Those moves on behalf of the settler enterprise were lauded as “tremendous and daring” by Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Gantz.

Also adding their voices to the reelect Trump prayer meeting were Gush Etzion Regional Council chairman Shlomo Ne’eman and the mayor of Hebron, Rabbi Hillel Horowitz.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs, where the prayer session took place, is sanctified by Jews and Muslims as the burial place of the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.

Hebron is home to approximately 1,000 settlers, who live in a series of enclaves surrounded by some 215,000 Palestinians. Large numbers of Israeli security forces protect Jewish residents in the city, which is frequently the scene of violence.

While Jews in the United States — except for the Orthodox — are expected to vote overwhelmingly for Democrat Joe Biden, Trump is a popular figure in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described him as the “greatest friend” Israel has ever had in the White House.

Many in Israel view Trump as a staunch supporter of the Jewish state, especially in the wake of the Washington-brokered Abraham Accords, which led to normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan.

A poll published by Channel 12 news Friday showed 54% percent of Israelis favor Trump, compared to 21% who favor Biden and 25% who were undecided or did not know. No methodology or margin of error was provided by Channel 12 for the survey.

Settlers in particular have been outspoken supporters of Trump for his policies that appear to support Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank. In addition, he has earned accolades for his administration’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman (L) with Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi in Efrat on February 20, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Still, many settler leaders, Damri included, rejected Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan over the fact that it included the possibility of the creation of a Palestinian state on parts of the West Bank not annexed by Israel. The reaction was reportedly met by anger in the White House.

Oded Revivi, the influential head of the Efrat settlement who was one of the settler leaders who embraced the Trump plan, said Sunday that he would not participate in the rally out of respect for the US political process.

“President Trump has proven over four years that he is a big friend of Israel and during his term ties between Israel and the US have grown stronger. However, just as we warn off foreign influences from internal debates and elections… so it is not correct for the leadership to express a stance on the US elections,” he tweeted.

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