Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Israeli settler leader says: ‘We are running rings round the authorities’

Posted by claudiacampli su 21 maggio, 2009

Times

James Hider in Kiryat Arba

As President Obama was telling Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, this week that all Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank must stop, in the huge settlement of Kiryat Arba on the edge of Hebron, one of the founders of the settler movement was explaining why that will not happen.

Elyakim Haetzni, 82, a German-born former lawyer, detailed how the settlers had run rings around the authorities’ half-hearted attempts to prevent settlement growth, and scoffed at the idea of a freeze.

Settlers and Israel’s anti-occupation peace camp agree on one thing: settlement growth far outstrips normal population increases inside Israel.

“In all these years of the freeze, the growth in population in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) was two to three times greater than in other parts of the country,” said Mr Haetzni, an articulate elder of Kiryat Arba.

Settlers complain that pressure to prevent their controversial hilltop towns and villages across the West Bank is strangling their communities, preventing people from raising families or expanding their homes.

In Noqdim, near Bethlehem, Michal Kupinsky, who organises cultural events in the settlement where Avigdor Lieberman, the Foreign Minister, lives, said that there was a waiting list of up to 50 families wanting to move in, largely because a road linking it to Jerusalem had been opened up two years ago, after being off-limits to Israelis for security reasons.

Israeli state radio said this week that settlements were expanding across the West Bank and in the Jordan Valley. Yet the Government of Mr Netanyahu, and his centrist predecessor, have claimed to be clamping down on them. “It is both at the same time,” said Mr Haetzni. “If there were no freeze we could have built three or four times more. But it’s true on the other side that there is also no freeze. In Kiryat Arba recently we brought in 20 caravans. There was no response from the authorities. We have places where houses were built illegally. Whether the American satellite has caught it I don’t know.”

What Mr Netanyahu describes as a permissible “natural growth” is, in fact, a long-running cat and mouse game designed to wear down the authorities by a determined group of zealots who believe history is on their side.

Mr Haetzni, who lost relatives in the Holocaust and who was severely wounded fighting Arab armies in 1948, said that the settlers had smuggled the mobile homes into Kiryat Arba in pieces, then assembled them as a new neighbourhood.

“We live in caves, we buy tents,” he said, citing the case of the evacuation of the settler outpost of Homesh in the northern West Bank two years ago as a prime example. “There’s a new movement of return to Homesh” he said.

“Even if [the police] reach the top of the hill the people disperse, they have to chase our people through Arab villages, so they give up. For almost two years there has been this cat and mouse game, and the authorities are fed up and they ran out of money; anything they destroy is built again.”

Mr Haetzni said that sympathisers in the security forces tipped off the Homesh settlers before a raid. Soldiers who fought in Gaza confirmed that combat units once largely made up of kibbutzniks — that formed the backbone of the Jewish state in its early days — were now largely made up of members of the national-religious community, from which the settler movement draws so much support.

Mr Haetzni said that it was a natural process caused by the collapse of the kibbutz movement and the passing of the Zionist torch to the right-wing. He said the army could not be used to evacuate the estimated 250,000 settlers now living in the West Bank.

“It goes against the grain of the country. You can’t take the Zionist state and cut the Zionism out,” he said.

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