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Settler Riots, Government Responsibilities

21 October 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Yesterday the right wing religious protesters at the Gilad Farm continued their violent protests against government demands they evacuate the illegal settlement as dozens more police, soldiers and settlers were injured.  In radio talk shows this morning they made two points, one in condemnation of the government for beginning the evacuation operation on Shabbat while the other concerned the lack of government efforts to remove illegally built Palestinian Arab home in Area C’ (areas in Judea and Samaria under full Israeli control).

Everyone with any common sense condemns the unnecessary actions taken on Shabbat and this includes the official representatives of the Israeli secular left.  The Chief of Staff has established a special investigating committee to be chaired by a general to find the culprits. 

As for Area C’ and illegal Palestinian building, the claim is true.  The number mentioned is 7,000 illegal structures.  Only a few hundred are reported demolished.  The conclusion reached by the settlers and the official Yesha Council (Judea, Samaria and Gaza Councils) is that if the Palestinians can break the law, so can they.  Both sides are involved in plenty of illegal building, most of it never demolished.  Many settlements stand today, having begun with illegal building.  Here the government stands guilty over the past 30 years and it makes no difference if Labor or Likud were at the helm.  Both caved in to extremist settler behavior.  Both did not put a halt to illegal Arab building (whether inside Israel or in the territories).

Settler behavior is abominable and completely unjustifiable by any and all explanations.  The security forces are busy dealing with riots on Samarian hilltops instead of battling terrorism or engaging in military maneuvers.  Such lawlessness is extremely dangerous to the unity of the Jewish people and the democratic Jewish character of the state of Israel.  Arab illegal building will not destroy the Jewish people, illegal settler building might do just that.

But such arguments fall on deaf ears.  The radicals among the settlers are messianic and only answer to the callings of G-d.   Being that none have claimed to have spoken personally with the Holy One they are dependent on ‘emissaries’, the Judean and Samarian rabbis.  They too are sending the wrong message, either through silence or discreet approval.  One does not hear their voices speaking out against the dangers posed by such extremists to the Jewish people.  Either they are accomplices or cowards, or maybe both.

It is high time the government and especially the right of center Likud led by PM Ariel Sharon took stringent action and prosecuted such law breakers, demanding maximum sentencing.  On the political level Sharon was responsible for the settlements more than anyone else except for maybe Menachem Begin (prime minister 1977 – 1983) and should command some respect.

Sharon now sees himself as a statesman and the consensus leader of modern day Israel.  On the settler front it is time he proved his leadership skills.