Jewish settlers living beyond the 1967 lines expressed concern Wednesday after hearing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say Israel "will be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland" during his speech before Congress.
The possibility of Jewish settlements becoming a part of a Palestinian state aroused their anger. "It's mass suicide, they'll just destroy us," a settler claimed. "Such talk of abandonment is very grave."
"If they evict us forcefully, we'll resist," said Eli Rosenbaum, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Ateret. "But if they abandon us to the mercy of the Palestinians – of course we'll resist. I suppose a majority of the Jewish population will object to it."
"Just two days ago I returned from my reserve service. We must remember we were sent here by the state and our rights and lives are no less important than those of other citizens," he added.
Rosenbaum was upset by Netanyahu's speech. "In the book of Psalms it says not to trust people, and we didn't trust in Netanyahu to bring salvation. His speech was very predictable and very disappointing. His final message allows the ceding of ancestral Jewish land, and it's a very grave message in our eyes. I hope this plan won't be carried out," he said.
According to Rosenbaum he would not give up his home for anything, claiming: "This isn't just about my home. It's about a country that belonged to past generations and belongs to future generations, and no one has the right to give it up.
"I don't believe even the pleasant things that Netanyahu said, like that Jerusalem would not be divided," Rosenbaum said. "I don't believe he really means he won't divide Jerusalem. It's a shame Netanyahu didn't speak with more force and worried about Israel's interests."
"The probability of us staying here under Palestinian rule isn't realistic. It's futureless, even if we're talking about actual peace," claimed Limor Zarbiv, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Neveh Tzuf.
For Zarbiv, Netanyahu's speech did not come as a surprise. "He said what everyone thought he would say. All of his flattery towards the Americans was unnecessary in my opinion, but it was clearly part of the game. I'm not naïve but it's not east to hear a leader of the Likud say he's willing to make painful concessions, knowing full well we're part of that sentence," she said.
Zarbiv said that given past experiences, "those who give up territory are usually the rightists".
"Our hope is that it just won't happen… We all want peace but we don't believe it'll happen. We believe the other side just won't allow it," she said.
"If I get evicted from my home for real peace, it will be a lot less painful," admitted Zarbiv. "I'm not talking about a withdrawal like the one done in Gaza, when they evicted (people) so they could keep shooting, but for actual peace that would put an end to the conflict once and for all. I wouldn't like it, but I would be able to handle it."
Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika also responded to the prime minister's speech. "Netanyahu is on a slippery slop he initially created for himself with his Bar Ilan speech. This stalling tactic doesn't justify the vow to swap ancestral homeland, an irrational vow," he said.
"The idea of waving the sword of deportation over the heads of more than 100,000 settlers is delusional, irrelevant, and impractical. The Israeli government should begin a massive settlement movement to close the book on the dangerous delusion of a Palestinian state."
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan believes the support shown to Netanyahu in the US Congress centered on Israel's security and the right of Jews to Israel, not withdrawal from land. "The Congress became silent just as he discussed geographical generosity and the abandoning of settlements," claimed Dayan.
"Even the Americans have a hard time understanding his insistence on supporting the Palestinian state. This is the time to leverage that sympathy to nationality and Zionism and translate it into Jewish sovereignty in Israeli settlements across the West Bank."
Chairman of the Binyamin Settlers Committee Itzik Shadmi also criticized Netanyahu, saying he would "give up our ancestral Jewish homeland for the benefit of our Arab enemies, who will establish an Arab state in addition to the one they already have in Jordan."
MK Uri Ariel (National Union), meanwhile, claimed "the PM volunteered to recognize a Palestinian state even before the Palestinians renounced their killing policy."
MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) added, "I congratulate Netanyahu for speaking candidly about the change of the Likud's platform. The National Union is the only political party left that is still true to the platform of the State of Israel."