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      Yesha Decrees: Replacing Despair with Confidence and Hope

      Former Mayor of Samaria Regional Council Benny Katzover has an idea how to counter the government's no-construction decrees in Judea and Samaria.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 1/15/2008, 5:40 PM

      Benny Katzover, a former mayor of the Samaria regional council and an active leader in building Judea and Samaria (Yesha), has an idea as to how to counter the government's no-construction decrees in Judea and Samaria.

      Katzover says there is still hope that the settlement enterprise can be ignited once again.  This, despite the new governmental decrees that state that any Jewish construction in Yesha (Judea and Samaria), even of a porch or the like, must receive approval from both Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.  Essentially, this means nothing will be built.

      Speaking with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine on Tuesday, Katzover said the new decree is a "double blow - to the heart, and to the brain." He explained: "It is obvious that our only chance of getting out of this convoluted situation in which we find ourselves is to continue Jewish settlement in Yesha, and fulfill the Biblical charge to 'conquer and inherit the Land.'  If we can increase our numbers to a million Jews in Yesha [there are currently close to 600,000 Jews living in the liberated areas of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria - ed.], we will thus break the chance of a Palestinian state, replace with despair all the motivation for terrorism, and greatly lessen the diplomatic political pressures upon us, both internationally and internally."

      "But instead of grabbing this opportunity with both hands and encouraging Jews to move to Judea and Samaria," Katzover continued, "we are doing the opposite. Where is the logic?"

      Blow to the Heart
      "These decrees also hurt me in my heart," he said.  "It sounds like a page from the times of Titus.  Our own children don't have a place to live, they have to go searching for hilltops and empty caravans just to find a home.  This is a country that has lost its conscience; first no new towns were allowed in Yesha, then no new outposts, and now not even natural growth is permitted.  New mothers are told that their children won't be able to live next to them. This is unheard of."

      Asked if he has any practical recommendations, Katzover said, "My suggestion is to choose a public building, such as a synagogue or a school or the like, in one of the central communities, and start building it openly - using it as a symbol of our fight against this White Paper decree, showing that the decrees are immoral and anti-Jewish.  I have found that people like this idea, and it has aroused much enthusiasm.  The government is not likely to want to fight us on such a thing, but even if it does, I believe the turnout will be so great - and especially if we choose the right building - that it will turn into a victory for us."

      Katzover said it is clear that there is a measure of despair and tiredness among the nationalist public, and a feeling of total rejection of "the old model and methods that caused us to lose Gush Katif."  However, he feels, "there is an awakening in the Samaria region, where I am active, and in the Binyamin region as well, and there is even potential in Greater Tel Aviv as well.  We can and must inspire people to replace their despair with hope and confidence. No one can promise that any single idea will work, but at least we have to know that we are enlisting all of our powers and strengths to save Yesha and to save our homes."