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PM Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Yesha Council Chairman Avi Roeh
Photo: Ben Kalmar
Samaria Council Head Gershon Mesika
Photo: Gur Dotan
Settlers pleased with new government
Settlers optimistic over new coalition which will likely see Ya'alon heading Defense Ministry, Hayabit Hayehudi's Uri Ariel getting housing portfolio

Settlers are pleased with the new coalition agreement between the Likud-Beiteinu, Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid: Rightists associated with the settlement movement will be heading all ministries related to settlement development.

 

"After what we've been through, we hope the development momentum will continue," said a hopeful Yesha Council official.

 

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Though the 33rd government's make-up has yet to be finalized, the settler public is allowing some optimism.

 

According to forecasts, the Housing Ministry will be headed by Habayit Hayehudi MK and settler Uri Ariel, and the Likud's Moshe Ya'alon will take the Defense Ministry portfolio.


נתניהו ויעלון בכנסת היוצאת (צילום: אוהד צויגנברג)

Netanyahu and Ya'alon in the last Knesset (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

 

"Our starting point is good, certainly due to the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi, but Yair Lapid also has potential," Yesha Council Chairman Avi Roeh remarked.

 

"We hope it ripens to a stage which will bring settlement development further," he added.

 

The only flaw Roeh sees with the new government is the notable lack of haredi participation: "It's a shame

they were left out. They were our partners for many years. Hopefully they'll be able to join us further along the way."

 

He also stressed that "the burden of proof doesn't lie with us, but with the other side. Our begging days are over; the settlement movement is entitled to all rights in all fields, including housing, transport and

tourism, the same as all Israeli citizens."

 

Samaria Regional Council Head Gershon Mesika was also hopeful, but did not rule out unexpected

developments.

 

"On the face of it, it does look like a wet dream – Ya'alon on Defense and Ariel on Housing is something which carries great potential, but in these things you can't foretell what will happen."

 

He pointed out that "on Ariel Sharon's second election campaign I called everyone I knew and asked them to vote for him, and we all know what happened.

 

"The burden of proof lies with them," Mesika agreed with the Yesha Council chairman, "Let's hope it all turns out well."

 

Their optimism will be put to trial soon, when the new government will face its first challenge – evicting the illegal Amona outpost.

 

According to Roeh, "Everyone today knows that evictions don't lead anywhere. The Levy Report adressed all these incidents and we'll hope it will be adopted."

 

Conversely, other prominent settlers wanted to take the enthusiasm down a peg or two. "I see no scenario in which Ariel and Ya'alon start wholesale authorization of housing and development, with Lapid

and Tzipi Livni in tow," said a senior settlement official.

 

He also doubted the chances of lasting cooperation between Netanyahu, Bennett and Lapid.

 

"Obama's visit and the impending outpost eviction issue will tear the masks off everyone's faces and

sadly, I don't think settlers will benefit," he added. 

 

 

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