In yet another success for Samaria’s advocacy initiatives, a group of European parliamentarians agreed to take a 36-hour trip to the area this week. The European Union generally views Samaria (Shomron) as Arab land and condemns Israeli construction in the area.
The parliamentarians came as guests of Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika.
They began their tour with a trip to the Barkan industrial zone. Many were surprised to see that Israeli Jews and Palestinian Authority Arabs were employed side-by-side in the factories.
Regional Council staff noted that boycotts of Israeli businesses in Judea and Samaria, including a threatened EU boycott, would primarily hurt industrial zones such as Barkan which provide a major source of employment for PA residents.
The tour then continued to a nearby lookout point from which the visitors could see the Tel Aviv region and Israel’s coastline. “We are in the heart of the land of the Bible and the center of Jewish heritage,” said Yossi Dagan. “From here we can see the ‘narrow waist’ of the State of Israel. Tel Aviv, the coastline and the Ben Gurion Airport are below us.”
“The State of Israel is the dam protecting Europe from fundamentalist Islam,” he added. “As you see with your own eyes, without Samaria the State of Israel is unlikely to survive.”
The visitors were then taken to Ariel University and from there to various historical sites in Samaria.
Mesika later spoke with the visiting parliamentarians in his office. He spoke of Samaria’s rich history and its place in Jewish heritage, as well as its central role today as a home to many Israeli communities and businesses.
The EU parliament is considering a boycott of Israeli communities in the area, Mesika noted. “Whoever comes here, as you did, and sees the reality here, understands how absurd it is,” he said. “Is not Samaria the place where there is real coexistence?” If boycott attempts succeed, Arab workers will be among those who suffer, he said.
One of the visitors noted, “I see that 90% to 98% of the Palestinians who live here are quite happy to live here. They see the advantage of living in Israel instead of in the Gaza Strip or wherever in the Arab world.”
The next day, the visitors traveled to Jerusalem and met with Minister of the Interior Eli Yishai and MK Nissim Ze'ev.