A settler leader accused fellow heads of the movement of “dancing on the blood” of terror victims in order to push an agenda benefiting settlements, rejecting calls for harsher punishments against the Palestinians and more building in the West Bank following a string of fatal attacks last week.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to dance on the blood of the murdered,” Jordan Valley Regional Council chairman David Elhayani told the Times of Israel Wednesday. “We have all the reasons during the rest of the year to protest the government’s neglect of Judea and Samaria [West Bank] residents, but to do so while people are still burying their loved ones is immoral.”
The leader of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, which covers 21 towns bordering the Hashemite Kingdom, said his opposition to the push was behind his decision to skip a settler-led protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday, at which protesters called on the government to aggressively respond to the latest spate of Palestinian violence.
Elhayani said that he made the same remarks at a Monday meeting of the Yesha settlement umbrella council, when new Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Gantz urged fellow settler leaders to ratchet up their pressure on the government.
Elhayani admitted that he represented a clear “minority” in the room, and said that his comments “shocked” the dozen-plus council chairmen present.
Gantz declined The Times of Israel’s request for comment on the matter.
Settler leaders and their right-wing allies in the government regularly call for an increase in Israeli construction beyond the Green Line in response to terror attacks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the same rhetoric to explain his latest directives to build and legalize settler homes.
“Palestinian terror thinks that it can uproot us. It won’t uproot us. This is the heart of our homeland. We will strengthen the settlements more each time [there is an attack], as we are doing now,” said the prime minister at a Tuesday visit to the Givat Assaf Junction, where two soldiers were shot dead by a Palestinian gunman last week.
The evening after the December 12 attack, Netanyahu announced that he had directed the government — through Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit — to legalize some 2,000 illegal homes built on private Palestinian land throughout the West Bank. In addition, he said that he ordered the Defense Ministry to advance building plans for 82 homes in the Ofra settlement and for new industrial zones in the Beitar Illit and Avnei Hefetz settlements.
Two lawmakers in the Jewish Home party threatened last week to bring down the coalition if the government didn’t also quickly advance Regulation Law 2 in response to the attacks. Within days, the legislation that seeks to legalize 66 outposts deep in the West Bank was advanced by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and passed by the Knesset in a preliminary reading.
But Elhayani argued that moves to expand settlement should not be pushed as an “appropriate response” to terror because that placed a price on each victim.
“Are you going to ask for one shekel for every rock thrown, and 100 shekels for every murder?” the regional council chairman asked rhetorically.