The city of Maaleh Adumim held a demonstration on Monday calling on the government to allow building in Mevaseret Adumim, an area within the city limits where building has been frozen. The demonstration was attended by several Members of Knesset, including members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition, led by ministers Uzi Landau and Daniel Hershkowitz. Also present were members of the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council.
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Police initially banned the protest, which was to include the symbolic laying of a cornerstone. The demonstration was allowed to take place as scheduled after organizers promised not to allow any form of construction, even symbolic. Instead, protesters buried a jug and a scroll.
Landau was open in his opposition to Netanyahu's building freeze policy. Jews should continue to build “on this side of the green line, on the other side of the green line, throughout the country,” he stated. “This is our homeland.”
Mevaseret Adumim is part of “E1,=”, a stretch of land between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem where a large-scale construction project has been planned for several years. Construction has been postponed due to strong opposition from the Palestinian Authority, which argues that building in the area would make it impossible for the PA to create a unified capital city in the eastern half of Jerusalem.
Peace Now Protest – A Good Sign?
As residents of Maaleh Adumim cheered the symbolic beginning of new life in Mevaseret Adumim, members of Peace Now held a counter-protest calling for a complete building freeze in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
"People from Peace Now came to protest. It gave me confidence that a community will be built here,” said Yesha Council figure Danny Dayan. “Every time they've demonstrated against our efforts to build a new town, 'the dogs barked, the cars passed,' - the town was built.”
"Why do I think we will defeat [Peace Now]?” Dayan continued. “Because our belief in our cause is stronger, because we are more determined... in the end, these informers' protests won't help them. The land of Israel will be settled.”
Young residents of Maaleh Adumim turn out in support (photo: Flash 90)
Peace Now may succeed in creating temporary obstacles, but it will not stop the trend of Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria, Dayan concluded.
MK Uri Ariel of Ichud Leumi (National Union) had harsher words for the Peace Now demonstrators. “Whether they are a virus or not,” he said, referring to recent controversial remarks from minister Yaalon, “we should make them illegal.”
"What kind of Jew can even consider forbidding a cemetery outside a Jewish community?” he asked. Israelis must strengthen Netanyahu, “who is even weaker than his predecessor,” in order to continue building, he said.
Landau: Learn from Ben-Gurion
If Israel gives in to American pressure, “it will disgrace the state of Israel,” said Landau. Instead, he said, Israeli leaders should learn from Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.
When the world warned Ben-Gurion not to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Ben-Gurion responded by moving the Knesset to Jerusalem, Landau explained. “We need to regain that spirit, to bring back that kind of leadership... We have honor, we have history, we have courage.”