Ze'ev Elkin: 'There's nothing stopping Netanyahu from uprooting settlements'

Ex-Likud minister vows New Hope party will normalize status of settlements, warns that Netanyahu could pursue new disengagement plan.

Ido Ben Porat ,

זאב אלקין
זאב אלקין
צילום: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Former Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin spoke with Arutz Sheva Sunday about his decision to bolt the Likud and join the New Hope party, founded by former Likud lawmaker Gideon Sa’ar, and where he believes the Likud may be headed.

Elkin told Arutz Sheva that the decision to resign from the government and leave the Likud was difficult – but necessary given the current political situation. The former Likud minister also blasted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, accusing him of making policy decisions solely on the basis of his own personal interests.

“At the end of the day, this political move was for the sake of the State of Israel, not for a platform within a party, and when you look at how the decisions are being made lately, how personal interests win out time after time, how he has an attitude of ‘I am the state, therefore what is good for me is good for the state’ – until some dangerous line is crossed.”

Elkin, who was until recently considered a close confidant of Netanyahu, pushed back on claims his decision to resign was personal, or tied to his loss of the Environmental Protection Ministry.

“That’s nonsense. I really liked the ministry I worked in while serving as Minister of Higher Education, and as [Minister] of Water. I got the University of Ariel added into the planning and budget committee, and that is revolutionary for a university.”

“I could have been reelected in the Likud,” continued Elkin. “In terms of political expediency, it would have been easy to stay. But you have to look the public in the eyes and say who is fit to govern Israel right now.”

You said that ‘Netanyahu has changed’. When did that change happen?

“Some of the problems were always there. But the number [of problems] changed dramatically during the past year. Everyone who knows him is aware of it, and everyone who sits down to talk with ministers and MKs from the Likud says this – often times it far harsher terms that what I’ve said.”

“In this situation you realize that you need to save the Right from collective suicide around a candidate that you aren’t comfortable with the decisions he could make. You could wake up one morning facing a mass withdrawal from Judea and Samaria because someone decided that this will help him in his trial or with public opinion, therefore that is the decision.”

Why hasn’t the government normalized the status yet of fledgling settlements in Judea and Samaria?

“I heard Netanyahu speaking at a gathering of the Likud secretariat speaking about the importance of normalizing the status of the fledgling settlements, and made the normalization of [unrecognized] Bedouin settlements in the Negev dependent on this [the normalization of fledging settlements].”

“I couldn’t believe it. In the last government meeting I was a part of, when the issue of normalizing the Bedouin settlements came up, it wasn’t linked or made dependent on any other issue.”

“Before I resigned, I made a point of saying that you can’t move forward with [normalizing Bedouin settlements] before you normalize the status of the fledging settlements, an issue I’ve followed very closely for a long time. There’s a government decision already prepared, ready and waiting. The rebellion I started led other ministers to join me on this. If this was important to Netanyahu, he would have brought it to a vote already.”

“Even ministers from Blue and White have said that if the State sent people to settle [these towns], then it can’t leave them without electricity and water.”