Thousands of Likud members converged on the Samaria town of Revava on Wednesday in a show of support for the region's Jewish residents. “We came to tell the residents of Judea and Samaria, 'We love you, we are proud of you,'” said organizer MK Danny Danon. Other organizers estimated the number of citizens who reached Revava at 3,500, and said a total of 10,000 people had participated in this and other solidarity events in Judea and Samaria.
The central event began on Wednesday morning, when approximately 70 buses carried Likud members from Israel and around the world to various sites in Samaria, allowing them to gain familiarity with the area and show support for local Jews.
Likud members in Revava
The gathering was larger than in previous such similar events. “There is growing awareness of the Likud leadership's dangerous slide to the political left,” Danon explained. Recent decisions made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, such as the agreement to freeze construction in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, “go against the very DNA of the Likud party,” he said.
Despite his criticism, Danon expressed support for Netanyahu. “We, members of Likud, say to the prime minister: You have total support from the members of your party. Total support to be faithful to Likud's traditional values, full support to safeguard Jerusalem, to build in Judea and Samaria, and not to give in under pressure,” he said.
Several other senior Likud party officials were among those present. Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein was there, as was the Deputy Minister in Charge of the Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoub Kara. Members of Knesset Tzipi Hotobeli, Miri Regev, and Tzion Pinyan attended the rally as well.
Likud politicians address the crowd
Another well-known Likud member, Jewish Leadership faction head Moshe Feiglin, sat up front alongside the Likud MKs and ministers. Feiglin's increasing power within the Likud party has not been welcomed by Netanyahu and other members of the senior party leadership.
'Freezing Construction – Like Going Without Air'
Dr. Yitzchak Ben-Gad, Israel's former Consul General to Florida, said Israel simply cannot freeze building in Judea and Samaria. “We cannot freeze the lives of 300,000 Jews, just as it is impossible to stop breathing,” he explained.
In Judea and Samaria, like elsewhere in Israel, couples are marrying and children are being born daily, Ben-Gad continued. Growth and construction is necessary to meet their basic needs and allow normal life to continue, he stated.
'An Important Step'
David Ha'Ivri, director of the Shomron Liaison Office, said “It's a pleasure to see the the first fruits of our ongoing campaign to expose the beauties of the Shomron to our brothers and sisters who don't have the opportunity to be here in their day-to-day life. Thousands of guests toured the region today visited our communities to show their support for our right to expand and freely build homes and also hiked though scenic landscapes in nature reserves and historic archaeological parks at the ancient capital of Sebastia.”
Meeting Samaria's Jews
“Today's event is a important stepping stone towards opening up this area for regular internal and foreign tourism,” Haivri said.
The leadership of Judea and Samaria's Jews launched an advertising campaign last year under the heading, “Judea and Samaria: Every Jew's Story,” in an attempt to encourage Jews to gain familiarity with Judea and Samaria, to visit the region and meet its residents. The turnout at Wednesday's events could be seen as a vindication of that investment.