Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) expressed her opposition Sunday to the government's decision to declare 4,000 dunams (about 1,000 acres) in the Etzion Bloc as state land, in response to the murders of three Jewish teens on June 12.
Livni told IDF Radio that she was powerless, however, to prevent the decision, which was announced by the IDF's Coordinator for Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT).
Israel is about to face a diplomatic and legal campaign against it following Operation Protective Edge, she explained. To this end, she added, Israel needs to get the moderate actors in the region on board with it, and the decision regarding the land “does not help” in this regard.
She noted that she supports Israel's retaining the “settlement blocs” in Judea and Samaria, which the Etzion Bloc is part of. However, she said, anything that will deflect attention toward Israel and engender international criticism is detrimental, at a time in which Israel needs to work together with Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States, which were part of the effort against Hamas, to prevent harsh measures against the Jewish state for the Gaza operation.
According to COGAT, Major General Yoav Mordechai, the declaration regarding the land was made “following the political echelon's instructions, at the end of Operation Brother's Keeper.” The operation was launched to search for three Jewish teens who were abducted from the Etzion Bloc – Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha'ar and Eyal Yifrah – and were eventually found to have been murdered.