President to settlers: Our right to land not debatable

Rivlin tells leaders of settlement communities they are ‘pioneers walking ahead of the camp’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin, center, meets with regional councils heads of West Bank settlements at the President's Residence, August 24, 2015. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin, center, meets with regional councils heads of West Bank settlements at the President's Residence, August 24, 2015. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin told a gathering of settler leaders Monday that Israel’s right to the land is beyond political debate, and that this is a basic fact of Zionism that no one should ever doubt.

At a meeting in the President’s Residence in Jerusalem with chairmen of West Bank regional councils, Rivlin praised the resilience of settlers in the face of recent Palestinian attacks against settlers and soldiers.

“Our right to the land is not a matter of political debate,” he declared. “It is a fundamental fact of modern Zionism. We must not let anyone have the feeling that we doubt our right to the land.

“In the last few months, and especially in the last few days, the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria has been dealing with grave terror attacks,” Rivlin said, using the biblical term for the West Bank regions. “Thus, in these days our meeting is especially important. As always, the pioneers walking ahead of the camp meet the toughest resistance, and pay, together with IDF soldiers, a heavy price.

“We have to cope,” he continued. “We have the ability to cope with the current wave of terror, to fight against it, and not to give anyone the power to disrupt daily life. We must be an iron wall, a strong shield against those who wish to rise against us.”

Last week an IDF soldier was wounded in the eye in a bomb attack on an army post south of Jerusalem.

On the same day, a toddler and her father were lightly wounded in a rock-throwing attack on Route 443 north of Jerusalem. The two-year-old girl and the father, who were not named by police, were hit by glass shards from the car’s window, which shattered when it was hit by a thrown rock from the side of the road near the West Bank village of Bir Nabala.

Earlier this month an Israeli man was moderately wounded after he was stabbed by a Palestinian assailant at a gas station, also on Route 443. The stabber was later shot by IDF soldiers.

Security forces have been on high alert in the West Bank following the deaths of 18-month-old infant Ali Saad Dawabsha and his father, Saad Dawabsha, in a firebombing attack in the Palestinian town of Duma last month. Police suspect the attack was carried out by Jewish extremists.

Security officials were concerned that the deaths of the Duma firebombing victims would spark a wave of Palestinian reprisals in the West Bank.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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