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      Bennett: Land Swaps Are Not Our Heritage

      During a march with 5,000 youths, Economy Minister slams talk of giving up land to keep 'settlement blocs.'
      By Ari Yashar
      First Publish: 1/10/2014, 9:34 AM

      Naftali Bennett at the 'Lamed Hey' march
      Naftali Bennett at the 'Lamed Hey' march
      Public Relations

      Economy Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett took part in a 13 kilometer (8 mile) march in Judea on Thursday night together with 5,000 youths. At the event, Bennett slammed the concept of land swaps, saying it opposes the heritage "of possessing the land and fighting for it."

      The march commemorated the "Lamed Hey (Convoy of 35)" a group of Hagana and Palmach fighters who were ambushed and killed by Arabs as they tried to resupply blockaded kibbutzim in Gush Etzion during the establishment of the country.

      Bennett participated in various events, including carrying a stretcher and even singing songs while playing the guitar, as he praised the youth.

      "They tell us sometimes that the young generation is spoiled," Bennett told the youths. "What I saw tonight is that we have a strong Zionist generation that can march at night in 5 degree (41 degrees fahrenheit) cold without complaining."

      "In the government there are pressures and we need to know that the people of Israel is strong," remarked Bennett. "I will let the Prime Minister know that tonight I saw a strong generation. We love you and every meter and step that you take in the land of Israel makes the land of Israel ours."

      Bennett criticized the idea of land swaps, which Labor Chairman Yitzchak Herzog recently promoted, through which Israel would give up parts of the land in order to maintain "settlement blocs," a term Bennett strongly contested.

      "We are here in in Gush Etzion, it's one of the 'blocs,'" noted Bennett. "If we want to stay in Gush Etzion, they say we have to make land swaps.  ...Why should we have to give something in exchange for Gush Etzion? Did it belong to anyone previously? In order for me to stay in my home, my land, I need to compensate someone else?"

      "We are ready to exchange peace with peace, neighborliness with neighborliness," stated Bennett. "Here in Gush Etzion is a great place to talk about good neighborliness between Jews and Arabs."

      However, the Economy Minister verbally pledged his opposition to exchanges of other sorts.

      "All these recent ideas about a Palestinian state, about a withdrawal from portions of the homeland, and talk of distinctions between blocs and isolated communities, on the expulsion of Jews or talks based on the '67 lines - they are the complete opposite of the heritage of the 'Lamed Hey,'" argued Bennett. "(The talk of withdrawals) is not acceptable to us, and never will be."

      The MK spoke against freezes on construction as well, noting "the only freeze that I'm willing to have is the cold that we're feeling in this wonderful place for the last several hours."

      Video from the event (in Hebrew) can be seen here: