Daily Israel Report

"This Has Been Our Land for Almost 4,000 Years"

Politicians call for change in public discourse. Elkin: "We need to talk about why we are here. Not about why we should leave"
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/24/2013, 4:10 PM

Jew holding Israeli flag in land of Israel
Jew holding Israeli flag in land of Israel
Flash 90

Ministers and Members of Knesset were among those who came to the Samaria town of Shilo on Wednesday to celebrate the opening of a unique new tourism center.

While there, they called to “switch discs” and to focus not on what the Palestinian Authority is asking Israel to give, but on what Israel must keep.

Minister of Economy and Trade Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said, “My suggestion for the Israeli negotiating team is that before they sit down to talk, they come here to Givat Haroeh, because this has been our land for almost 4,000 years already.

“I promise in the name of the Israeli government that we will continue to build, and you will see it soon,” he declared, in an apparent nod to reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised Bennett he would allow construction tenders.

Deputy Foreign Minister Zev Elkin (Likud) said, “It’s symbolic that we are meeting here as diplomatic talks begin. I think that everyone who is here and who sees this understands our place here.”

He added, “In negotiations, we need to talk about why we are here. Not about why we should leave, but about why to stay forever.

“The time has come to switch discs – instead of talking about what we are giving up, we need to talk about where we are going to stay.”

Like Bennett, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) expressed confidence that Jewish communities in Samaria will flourish. “I’m here to say that the ‘whole land of Israel’ is still the vision… There are many in the Israeli government who will not give these places up, and who will even be sure they are built up.”

The center opened Wednesday has been called Migdal Haroeh. It includes a unique high-tech display that allows visitors to see Bible plays against a real-life backdrop.