Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, whose growth was unilaterally stifled by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government during the 10-month building moratorium, have found a friend in Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon.
The 39 year-old rookie MK, who is seen as one of the prime minister's biggest critics within his party – as well as a rising Likud star – has made himself a champion of new building efforts, placing the weight of his Knesset seat behind them.
Following the recent termination of the building freeze, his office has been instrumental in acquiring permits for new construction projects in the biblical heartland.
On the day of the termination of building, he led dozens of buses filled with World Likud members on a tour of Jewish communities in the region, with an emphasis on expressing the need for growth – and the motivation of local citizens to make it happen.
In an interview with Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher on the day residents returned to building, Danon explained why he is dedicated to the cause. "We were elected on a very clear platform to build and to settle the land," he said. "If the prime minister would have told the voters that we will not build in Judea and Samaria, he would not be the prime minister today, and I would not be in the Knesset today. Likud members are sending a clear message to the prime minister: we support you, but you must stay loyal to the way, to the platform. Otherwise, you will have no support."
Supporting Jewish growth throughout Israel is not just about political success for himself or the Likud, however. According to Danon, it is a matter of survival. "I see the large amount of [foreign] pressure on this minor issue of Jewish building in the settlements, and I ask myself, 'What will happen when we will get to the core issues?' Imagine the amount of pressure President Obama will put on our prime minister," said Danon. "We have to be very strong now. Otherwise, it will be a very dangerous precedent, because the Americans will understand they can push Israel. We have to be very strong today, because we will face the issue of Jerusalem, settlement, borders… I can only imagine the amount of pressure that will be brought to bear upon us."
MK Danon urged the United States to relent on that pressure, in the name of democracy. "We respect the American democracy, we respect the American president, but we want the American people to respect democracy in Israel, to respect the sovereignty of Israel, where we tell Jews they can build everywhere in the [land of Israel]."
For him, that right is not just a fundamental part of what Likud stands for, but a core Zionist value. "When you have Jewish homes on the ground, this is pure Zionism," he said.
Danon's adherence to essential Zionism is also evident in his Knesset record. A former Jewish Agency emissary to Miami, Florida, Danon is a co-sponsor of a new bill that would create a national holiday celebrating Aliyah – return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. "I believe that the energy to sustain and to win the fight is by having the good people and the right people," Danon told Fleisher. "That's why when I see Zionist people, I tell them that the ultimate force is to make Aliyah to Israel. That is what you should do."
Ultimately, Danon is optimistic about the future, though there is much work left to do. "When I see the energy of the people, I know we will prevail. It will not be easy, it will not be short-term, it will be long-term, but we will prevail. That is why we are here supporting the settlers who are the pure Zionists of Israel today."