Is Europe's Yesha 'Taboo' Coming to an End?
Ukraine's deputy minister of culture toured Samaria (Shomron) with senior bureaucrats from numerous Ukrainian ministers on Friday.
"This is my fifth visit to Israel, but I didn't have any idea that there are such idealists in this country," Kokhan Tymofii said. "I wish you only good for your community. Ukraine will be a firm partner for Israel"
"We love your country and respect your people," Tymofii added. "Our countries have a lot in common. We laugh and cry in the same way in Ukrainian and Hebrew."
"We were all born of Adam and Eve, we must preserve our friendship, appreciate peace, honour our parents and educate our children so that their skies will always be peaceful, and they will be able to grow up respecting their leaders and the religion of their neighbors, friends and brothers," he said.
The visit by a senior government minister from an important European country was hailed as breaking an international taboo by David Ha'Ivri of the Shamron Liaison Office.
“Israel's control of Judea and Samaria and the development of Jewish communities in this region is almost always at the very top of the international discourse and geopolitical debate,” Ha’Ivir said. “Even coming here is taboo.”
“Decisions makers who wish to make a stand on this issue would be doing themselves a big favor by taking the time to actually come out and see the facts on the ground for themselves. Seeing is believing, the facts of the ground speak for themselves.”
Led by the head of the Shomron Council, Gershon Mesika, and of the Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, the delegation was given a comprehensive tour of the settlements, industry and agriculture, as well as the wineries in the Shomron.
"These unique tours, that we are making a top priority to carry out, have an amazing effect on those taking part," Edelstein said. "In most cases people radically change their opinions about the reality in Judea and Samaria and about the people living there, and understand much better the challenges that our country is facing."
"There is nothing like a tour of the Shomron in order to understand that the stigmas and prejudices were wrong," he added.
During the visit, the guests toured the Trans-Samaria Highway where they were exposed to the physical narrowness of the State of Israel, and the industrial area of Barkan.
They also observed the Tomb of Joseph and Nablus itself in "Mitzpeh Yosef" – an observation point overlooking Nablus on Mount Gerizim.
Gershon Mesika emphasized the importance of settlements in Judea and Samaria in maintaining the security and existence of the Jewish state.
"From here we can see what the meaning of the Land of Israel is for the Jewish People," Mesika said. "Those who are pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian State must know that the inevitable result will be excising the heart of the Land and the expulsion of more than 300,000 Jews from their homes."
"If we leave here, terror groups will take our place," he added.