'Israel Speaks Loudly and Carries No Stick'

Ex-Yesha Council head in Washington says US relations looking up, building freeze remains 'absolute' despite vocal declarations.

Uzi Baruch, Ari Yashar ,

Dani Dayan
Dani Dayan
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Arutz Sheva got the chance to speak with former Yesha Council leader and current foreign envoy Dani Dayan at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly (GA) in Washington DC.

Dayan summarized a number of fronts Israel is currently facing, including relations with America which he says look set to improve dramatically following the US mid-term elections that last Tuesday saw US President Barack Obama turned into a "lame duck" for the remainder of his second term.

There has been talk that Obama will turn his attention abroad and press Israel even more now that he is unable to legislate and affect domestic affairs as much - according to Dayan those concerns are unfounded, and the elections are very "positive."

Obama understands the limitations on him vis-a-vis Israel given a "reawakening" of support for Israel among Senators, says Dayan, adding that Senators have been saying they will "kill" a bad deal on Iran's nuclear program in a showing of strong bipartisan opposition to such a deal.

During his trip Dayan met with Mitt Romney, who ran for president in 2012, and noted that Romney continues to express "absolute support" for Israel as have other senior politicians.

When asked about Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's plan to submit a UN Security Council resolution recognizing "Palestine" and demanding Israeli withdrawals, Dayan remarked the problem is not so much with America's position on such a move, including the veto power it wields, as it is with Israel's complacency.

"In the diplomatic war that Abbas has started against us - I can't come to America with complaints when Israel doesn't return double what it's taking. Israel must not take the repeated diplomatic attacks by Abbas in silence, and it must take action on the ground by building in Judea and Samaria," said Dayan.

In this context, the Yesha foreign envoy noted he came to the GA because "the time has come for institutionalized American Judaism to stop sitting on the fence regarding the attacks of hatred against Jews in Judea and Samaria," calling for their support in fighting the demonization of Israel.

"Jewish construction is under an absolute freeze"

According to Dayan, there is reason for concern regarding reports that Obama will veto Abbas's UN move only on condition that Israel stop all building in Judea and Samaria, a move that ministers have hinted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may concede on.

"Today there is a freeze, there is a freeze in planning, there's a freeze in marketing land," Dayan reported on Netanyahu's covert freeze of Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Quoting former President Theodore Roosevelt's famous adage "speak softly and carry a big stick," Dayan remarked "our government does the opposite, it speaks firmly but doesn't have any stick, instead it retreats."

To illustrate the point, he noted that regarding an announcement to renew approval of a project in the Jerusalem neighborhood Givat Hamatos, "after we paid the diplomatic price the government lands were not marketed."

Likewise in Gush Etzion, "after 4,000 dunams were declared state land nothing is happening on building. The freeze is absolute today in the fields of planning and marketing," said Dayan.

The Yesha council official urged action from members of government that are "loyal to the land of Israel," such as in Likud and Jewish Home, saying they "need to take clearer and more serious action than has been done till now."

Netanyahu has been carry out what has been termed a "covert freeze" for many long months since the time of the peace negotiations that were torpedoed by the PA in April. While he was given a choice between terrorist releases or a freeze as a "gesture" in those talks, in actuality Netanyahu was revealed to have made both concessions.

The continued dearth of building comes in the midst of a severe housing crisis, which many say can be cured by developing Judea and Samaria, an area that is reportedly over 90% unpopulated.