‘This is How You Fight for Your Homes?’

A former Yesha leader warns that the fight against demolition in Beit El is insufficient, calls to “think macro, not micro.”

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Maayana Miskin,

Hunger strike protest tent
Hunger strike protest tent
Flash 90

Former Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council head Yisrael Harel was disappointed Sunday by the low turnout at a protest against the demolition of homes in Beit El. Harel visited the protest tent in Jerusalem where several people have begun a hunger strike – among them his daughter Nitzanit Riklin.

“Exactly 32 years ago we had a hunger strike here, opposite the Prime Minister’s Office, because there were only 12 Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria and Prime Minister Menachem Begin was the first to freeze settlement,” he recalled in an interview with Arutz Sheva. “I remember how many joined us, and there were hundreds of us on hunger strike. Once a week we had a huge rally.

“After 42 days you could say Begin broke… Within weeks there was rapid building in Judea and Samaria,” he said.

“I am disappointed by what I see today. Today there are hundreds of communities in Judea and Samaria and more than 300,000 people, and there are eight hunger strikers. That’s not how you fight for a home,” Harel said. He added, ‘There would be a real message in hundreds of people going on hunger strike, with public leaders and rabbis.”

When asked where the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise had made mistakes, Harel replied, “We are a community that has shown determination in establishing communities, but strategic thinking is not one of our strong points. Every town and regional council has acted according to its own interests and not in a united fashion… What we see today is one of the results.”

The settlement enterprise has deep roots, but has neglected the diplomatic and legal fronts, he added. “We need to start acting on the macro level, not the micro,” he advised.

Harel ended on an optimistic note, saying, “I do not doubt that the settlement enterprise will continue to flourish.”