President Shimon Peres on Thursday met with leaders of the settlement movement, rabbis and representatives of the military academies. The meeting was held on the backdrop of the demolition of illegal structures in the outpost of Mitzpe Yitzhar, the torching of another mosque in the West Bank and settler violence directed against IDF soldiers.
The meeting, meant to reinforce unity between the settlement movement and other sectors of society, took place only several hours after Civil Administration personnel, protected by hundreds of soldiers and police officers, razed two illegal structures in the outpost of Mitzpe Yitzhar.
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IDF razes 2 structures in Mitzpe Yitzhar
West Bank mosque torched
Participants included Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan, Binyamin Regional Council Head Avi Roeh, Karnei Shomron Yeshiva High School Head Rabbi Zev Karov and others.
"At a time when the entire Muslim world is experiencing immense tension and unrest – giving (them) an excuse to attack Israel is a disaster – an insane act that must be stopped immediately," Peres told the participants. "The Middle East is burning, so why add fuel to the fire? Fuel against Israel?" he added.
Buildings razed in Mizpe Yitzhar
'Violence is forbidden'
The president noted that "there is no room for criminality, violation of the law and riotousness. It’s horrible to see our sons and daughters enter IDF bases and nearly kill an officer, my god."
Rabbi Eli Sadan said the sides "are in full agreement that the most important strategic measure for Israel is to maintain unity from within, especially given the reality of so many enemies from without.
"The Jewish people's Robustness is contingent upon its ability to hold a respectful dialogue, even with the existence of disagreements," he said.
"We took a clear Jewish stand, that violence is forbidden in all its forms –against the army, citizens and Arabs; vandalism of mosques and holy places is a negative act that has no utility other than fanning the flames," Sadan added.
Mitzpe Yitzhar (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Dayan also denounced the violence, saying "there is no justification to hit a soldier or an officer, storm a military base or harm innocents – Regardless of their religion," he said, adding that the settlement leadership will do everything in its power to abolish the phenomenon.
'This is not our way'
Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council, who is considered one of the more hawkish members of the Yesha Council, denounced the recent "price tag" incidents: "The enemies of the settlement movement are hailing those who desecrated the mosque.
"These acts, besides being wrong in principle, are the worst possible thing for the settlement movement, and the 400,000 residents of Judea and Samaria denounced them. The perpetrators do not belong among us and I'm sure they didn’t come from within out midst. This is not our way," he said
The settlement movement, he added "also denounces the horrible, hypocritical incitement by interest-driven politicians who are trying to drag an entire community through the mud. This is a slanderous generalization… they should be going after the perpetrators instead."
Also on Thursday morning, the six suspects arrested in Jerusalem on Wednesday in connection with "price tag" acts against Palestinians and an attempt to torch a mosque will be arraigned before the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court. The police are seeking to have them remanded.
On Tuesday, some 300 settlers rioted near the West Bank outpost of Ramat Gilad, which is also slated for eviction. The settlers hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles and attacked a military jeep. The Ephraim Brigade commander and his deputy were lightly injured in the incident.
Yoav Malka contributed to this report
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