Danny Dayan
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Gershon Mesika
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Right 'ambivalent' on PM's speeches
Heads of settlement movement largely support PM Netanyahu's Washington statements but say time has come to speed up construction in east Jerusalem, West Bank. 'New neighborhood in east J'lem is tip of the iceberg' says rightist element

"We're ambivalent about Netanyahu's trip in general and particularly about his speech before Congress," Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan told Ynet Wednesday.


"It was heartwarming to see 450 congressmen, 100 senators and the vice president rise and applaud the statement that the Jewish people were not occupiers in the West Bank, but on the other hand came that miserable slip about abandoning communities.


"It pains me, even though I know it will not happen. It won't happen mainly because Netanyahu doesn’t have the political power to see it through," he said.


"Netanyahu has to be just as much a Zionist as the congressmen who so enthusiastically showed their support for construction in Judea and Samaria," Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council," told Ynet.  


"In any case, the number of residents has long passed the point of no return. Hundreds of thousands of people live in Judea and Samaria, and over 100,000 live outside what is called the 'settlements blocs.' No politician can uproot them. The country is still reeling from uprooting 8,000 people in Gush Katif."


MK Uri Ariel (National Union) blamed the prime minister for failing to act on his statements, saying that "despite all the talk about a united Jerusalem, it suffers from a construction freeze. So do Judea and Samaria… even Olmert built more than Netanyahu."


Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer, on the other hand, said that "Netanyahu is faithful to the settlers not only in words, but in actions as well. He continues to pour resources into places that he says will not remain a part of Israel."


Earlier Wednesday, a new Jewish neighborhood was inaugurated in east Jerusalem – in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood. Some 100 families are slated to move into the new housing project.


Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who led the ceremony, said: "We are committed to developing Jerusalem for the good of all of its residents, Jews and Arabs alike… To the world we say – we will continue to build and advance Jerusalem according to the law."


Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who – along with other senior ministers – was present at the ceremony, said that "We must support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in his position as was presented during his US visit, and forever we should say – that's enough, Jerusalem should stay untouched."


Orly Noy, spokeswoman for Ir Amim – a group which focuses on Jerusalem within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – told Ynet that "Jerusalem is the litmus test for Israel's intentions regarding the peace process. Tonight's dangerous provocation in Ras al-Amud sends a problematic message, hurts Israel and destabilizes the city."


A source in the Jewish settlement movement in east Jerusalem told Ynet that the new neighborhood was just the tip of the iceberg.


"East of the city there are Jewish-owned territories and properties in neighborhoods like Silwan, Shimon Hatzadik, Abu Dis, and in the Old City. Jewish settlement is an existing fact.


"Some projects are materializing now and some of them are delayed because of bureaucracy and legal matters, but the truth is that all of Jerusalem's neighborhoods are involved. You cannot divide Jerusalem. That's the reality."


Omri Efraim contributed to this report



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