Minister Benny Begin on Sunday took part in a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new neighborhood in the South Mount Hebron settlement of Beit Hagai. "We are building and will build in the Land of Israel," the minister said, adding that "there are 300,000 residents in Judea and Samaria and there will be tens of thousands more."
According to Begin, "The term 'settlement blocs' is used often. Sometimes people are wrong. There are settlement blocs – western ones in Samaria, from the east – in Judea, and in the south – on Mount Hebron. They are all settlement blocs. We don’t distinguish between them and other blocs.
"The State of Israel and the people of Israel have interests in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem, which are not only security-related, but based on an ancient affiliation."
The new Beit Hagai neighborhood is slated to include 10 housing units, and the foundations for its houses were laid even before the government decided to implement a 10-month construction freeze in the West Bank.
The ceremony was also attended by Tzviki Bar Hai, head of the Mount Hebron Regional Council; Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, head of the Nir hesder yeshiva in Kiryat Arba; Kiryat Arba Mayor Malachi Levinger; Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan; and Ze'ev Hever, secretary-general of the Amana organization.
Rabbi Waldman addressed the construction freeze as well. "There's no such thing as 'don't build'. The Torah orders us to do so in the Land of Israel, as does Zionism and the loyalty to our homeland. They all call on us to create life, and that's what we're doing."
'International pressure results in weakness'
The rabbi said that "there are weaknesses as a result of pressures in the world aimed at narrowing our steps in the Land of Israel, reducing our settlement. We and the people will face these pressures. The people will strengthen the government in withstanding (the pressure)."
Bar Hai joined Begin in his interpretation of the 'settlement blocs' term. "We are in favor of settlement blocs. Today we are strengthening Hebron's settlement blocs and all the surrounding communities," the Mount Hebron council head said. He added that he and his people "call on the Right's elected political leadership to act like the Right."
The Yesha Council head addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tree planting in settlement in honor of the holiday of Tu B'Shvat, saying that "there are days of confusion and disorder. On the one hand, the prime minister plants a tree in Ariel and Gush Eztion, and on the other hand he is trying to tempt Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) to enter negotiations.
"Now, more than ever, it is our duty to convey a clear message of full trust in the rightness of our way. We will not stop building in Judea and Samaria."