The Samaria Regional Council has answered United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s pressure to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with its own campaign in Washington, D.C.
Samaria leaders established their own Foreign Ministry earlier this year after realizing that other groups were not going to take the lead in promoting Israeli communities in the region.
Its delegates met with more than 20 U.S. Senators and Members of Congress. “We opened a very crucial door to the world of the United States of America, to many Congressmen, many Senate members, who right now are willing to listen,” Shay Attias, Samaria’s Chairman of Foreign Affairs, told Arutz Sheva.
One of the delegates’ best tools for arguing their point was a simple topographic map that emphasized Israel’s vulnerability to attack without the hills of Samaria.
Congressman Trent Franks told Arutz Sheva that he and fellow pro-Israel Congressmembers have contacted European officials and urged them to “do away with this nonsense about the ‘67 borders. Those ‘67 borders are not defensible for Israel.”
It’s “outrageous” that Israel asked to go to those borders, which would make Israel helpless, he added.
Franks also denounced the pressure on Israel to release PA murderers as a precondition to talks. “No. There should be no preconditions for Israel. Israel has always tried to do everything they could to seek peace… To suggest that they have to release murderers… in order just to talk, is an outrageous injustice,” he accused.
Attias reported mixed feelings after the round of overwhelmingly successful talks with U.S. leaders. “On the one hand I’m very glad because they were listening, they were willing to open their hearts and minds, and they actually proposed very practical ways to help,” he said.
“However on the other hand I’m very sad, because I understand that for the past few years there was no one that actually promoted, advocated, Judea and Samaria in these very places,” he lamented. The pro-Israel groups in Washington have largely avoided arguing on behalf of Israel’s presence in those regions, he explained.
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika plans to continue the region’s diplomatic efforts, Attias added. Delegates plan to return to both the U.S. and to Europe, where they previously managed to convince EU parliamentarians to come see Samaria for themselves – a visit that had an impact on the MPs’ views.
Under Mesika’s leadership, the Council has also led a successful campaign to bring Israeli public figures to see Samaria.