Anti-Expulsion Leaders Calling For Yesha Council´s Resignation

Leaders of the anti-expulsion struggle are calling upon members of the Yesha Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza communities to resign.

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Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 07:23

Leaders of the anti-expulsion struggle are calling upon members of the Yesha Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza communities to resign following its alleged unwillingness to combat the expulsion.

"Of all the factors in the country that were in play, those who brought about the present failure were the Yesha leadership," Kedumim Mayor and longtime settlement activist Daniella Weiss told Arutz-7. "The Yesha Council has not done an internal examination, and I don't think they reached the proper conclusion from the failure."

Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss
Weiss claims that from the very first meetings regarding how to successfully prevent the removal of Jews from 25 communities in Gaza and northern Samaria, the Yesha Council was more concerned with public opinion than preventing the expulsion. "There was stammering from the very beginning regarding the supposed implications of 'defeating the IDF,' she said. "They were preoccupied with the image of the IDF, even though the proposed actions were aimed at defeating the dictatorial government, not the army. They framed it as, 'woe unto us if we beat the IDF,' without understanding that if the IDF would have said - not just the religious officers, but the whole IDF - 'we are unable,' it would have saved the army, not defeated it."

Arutz-7 Hebrew Radio Interviewer Ariel Kahane asked Weiss if the large forces brought in by the IDF to carry out [the Disengagement] did not render victory impossible.

"It was possible. It was, I would even say, easily possible," Weiss responded. "If the country had been brought to a halt, such that no single person would be able to continue to sit and drink coffee at a cafe without knowing that they would not be able to go home and arrive at the time they intended to and that tomorrow they might not be able to get to work. What happened is that the leadership backed down from the public pressure, orchestrated directly by the Prime Minister's office. The moment media polls showed them going down in the opinion polls they backed down from using the most efficient and effective weapon in our possession and even worked against it."

The result of the Yesha Council decision to reject such tactics, according to Weiss, was that in the eye of the public, the decision not to bring the country to a halt for the Land of Israel placed it on a lower rung of the ladder of national priorities than medical benefits and union demands, for which those effected were willing to disrupt Israeli life.

Elei Sinai refugee Avi Farhan, expelled from his home of more than two decades after being thrown out of his previous home during the 1982 withdrawal from Sinai, is also calling upon the members of the Yesha Council to resign. He accused the Council of failing to fight on behalf of the Jews of Gaza. He also attacked their refusal to allow residents of northern Gaza to wage their own struggle.

Women-in-Green Leader
Nadia Matar
Women in Green founder Nadia Matar, who took part in the establishment of tent cities in Gush Katif to house families who managed to enter the area in order to oppose the expulsion, has even stronger words to describe the Yesha Council's approach. "It was the espousal of statist fascism," Matar said. "The insistance that 'the state and the army are above all' - even when the state and army are comitting a crime against humanity - is what enabled the crime to take place."

Matar also added that regardless of one's opinion with regard to how much force should have been used against the expulsion forces, the Yesha Council repeatedly misled the tens of thousands of people who looked to it for guidance on stopping the expulsion. "Once their campaign for a referendum failed, it was obvious that they had decided to engage in a purely symbolic struggle, to be recorded in the history books, but not prevent the expulsion," said Matar. "They lied to people about their intentions to march toward Gush Katif from Kfar Maimon, lied about supporting civil disobedience and lied about many other things which we are gathering evidence about right now and will certainly publicize in the future."

Council Members: No Need to Resign
"I have no intention to resign, at least at this stage," Yesha Council Chairman Bentzy Lieberman told B'Sheva Weekly's Editor-in-Chief Emanuel Shilo, in an interview to be published this week. "If we would have overwhelmed the army, they would have just sent in 100,000 more soldiers and everything we would have built would have been for naught."

Yesha Council member and Gush Etzion Mayor Shaul Goldstein, currently in N'vei Dekalim helping to dismantle infrastructure and greenhouses belonging to residents there, dismissed Weiss' and others' allegations. "The whole accusation that we chose our pensions over the Land of Israel is false," Goldstein said. "How can you beat the army? You can only beat the IDF with violence - with serious violence - and that would destroy Israeli society. We were demanding a referendum, but to rule the country with just tens of thousands, that is not our way - and this was decided by nearly all the rabbis in all of our sectors."

Goldstein also said that he doesn't understand why people expected the Yesha Council to take the initiative of organizing mass civil disobedience when groups like Bayit Leumi (National Home) seemed to be fully confident that they could organize such protests on their own. "Not everything is done through the flyers and signs of the Yesha Council, he said. The whole Bayit Leumi, which we thought would act on the day of the expulsion instead of lecturing us on what we should do, was nowhere to be found."

The Gush Etzion mayor says he has no interest in continuing his work with the Yesha Council as his position is Mayor of Gush Etzion, a position to which he plans to give more attention now that the Disengagement is over. What he does feel is the necessary next step in the ongoing struggle for Judea and Samaria is More 'face to face' programs, more explaining to Israelis about the security dangers of a Palestinian state. "Perhaps we will yet win," said Goldstein.

Meanwhile, a growing group of activists and extra-parliamentary leaders are meeting in the coming days to discuss the creation of an alternative to the Yesha Council for leadership of the Land of Israel movement and the struggle against any further proposed retreats.

"If we continue with this leadership," said Matar, "we may as well begin packing in Efrat, Betar, Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel and in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood. We simply must provide an alternative leadership to the Yesha Council - because even if they all resign and new people take their place, the struggle can not be waged by people receiving their salaries from the government."