Pinchas Wallerstein
Photo: Ohad Zoigenberg

Pinchas Wallerstein leaving Yesha Council

After close to 35 years of public activity, settler leader decides to resign from umbrella organization of Judea and Samaria communities following disagreements with Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan

After almost 35 years of public activity in Judea and Samaria, Pinchas Wallerstein has decided to resign from the position of Yesha Council director.


Wallerstein explained his move to Ynet on Monday morning: "My decision to resign derives mainly from the inability to define my job description without harming the work and responsibilities of Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan." He is expected to end term of office at the end of the month.


Wallerstein, 61, grew up in Kfar Ata, was seriously injured in the Six Day War and later worked as a teacher. In May 1975, he was appointed secretary of the Ofra settlement and of the Gush Emunim movement. In July 1979 he was elected head of the Binyamin Regional Council, and held on to this position until November 2008. Since then he has been serving as director of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish communities in the West Bank.


On Monday morning, Wallerstein sent a firm letter to the Yesha Council. "Following an internal conflict and quite a few difficulties, I decided to resign from my position in the Yesha Council, both as member of the secretariat and as director," he wrote.


"I am doing this first and foremost in order to allow Danny Dayan to leave his sign and style on the Yesha Council's activity. I will decide on the exact date together with Danny, and it will be in the coming days. It should be noted that the differences between us are more about quantity and timing and less about issues of essential content."


'Inability to define job description.' Wallerstein and Dayan (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)


Wallerstein added, "I am well aware of the importance of this period in time and of the need to focus our power and efforts under a responsible leadership, in light of the orders threatening the settlement enterprise, and I am convinced there is no other body which can lead the extra-parliamentary struggle."


'No condemnation and no backing'

He also addressed the calls against him following his remarks against Israel Defense Forces recruits who raised signs against the evacuation of outposts.


"Also during a discussion on whether to condemn the behavior of soldiers in a military ceremony, I did not hear any of the secretariat members who justify this conduct by the soldiers. There are those of us who thought we should not respond, and there are those who thought this was a foolish and childish act, and I thought that under the current circumstances we must respond firmly, and I hold the same opinion today.


"It is our duty to ensure that the IDF is not involved in political activity of evacuations and destruction, but we must not allow soldiers in uniform to engage in actions which may violate the IDF's sacredness. It's true that I believe we must not ignore any harm caused to the IDF and its troops in any way."


He concluded his letter by saying, "I have no plans to stand idly and I will convey my opinion if allowed to do so, but I will not lash out against the Yesha Council in any event. Even now, there is no doubt that the leadership's responsibility in the face of what may happen requires reasoning and national responsibility.


"I am certain that you will be able to complete the missions. This will be the first time in my adult life that I will not be part of the leadership of the public, which I had the right to be part of. I thank those who allowed me to represent them and carry this unbearable burden."

Wallerstein as Binyamin Council head (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan said in response to the resignation, "Pinchas Wallerstein is a man who for more than 30 years has not only contributed, but strengthened the settlement in Judea and Samaria. I have a lot of appreciation and admiration towards him. I am certain that in spite of what he wrote, he will continue to be an integral part in the settlement's leadership and in the Yesha Council."


Many in the Yesha Council have noticed the recent tensions between Wallerstein and Dayan on the backdrop of recent statements to the media. Wallerstein, one of the most prominent fogures in the Yesha Council and among the settlers' leaders, has yet to decide on his next move. His departure take place in the midst of the Yesha Council's battle against the settlement construction freeze.


MK: Settlers need different leadership

Right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir said in response to Wallerstein's decision, "Pinchas should be given a lot of credit for building the Land of Israel and developing Judea and Samaria, but the war against Netanyahu's decrees will only be won with firmness, determination and an adamant struggle against the freeze government."


Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union) expressed his hope that Wallerstein's departure would bring about a new era. "This is another stage in the change of guards within Yesha's leadership, which began following its failure in the disengagement."


MK Eldad noted that the settlers need a new, different leadership in light of the tough battles ahead, "as the Israeli government plans to enter negotiations for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the country or a second pullout, a complete construction freeze, a destruction of communities and a deportation of tens of thousands of settlers."


He thanked Wallerstein, however, for his "long and devoted service to the people and the land."


Left-wing organization will not miss Wallerstein as well. Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said that "despite the attempt to portray him as a moderate man, Wallerstein is in fact one of the main initiators of illegal outposts in the territories, even on private Palestinian lands. If Wallerstein is considered moderate, the settlers' public has become much more extreme in an alarming manner."


MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) noted that Wallerstein's contribution to the settlement enterprise would be "remembered for generations to come." According to Orbach, "Instead of vulgar and provocative shouting, he always preferred to work quietly and thoroughly. I hope the Yesha Council is wise enough to find a worthy substitute."


פרסום ראשון: 01.11.10, 09:41
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