Samaria celebration
Samaria celebrationMiriam Tzachi / Shomron Regional Council

What was scheduled to be a simple festive 30th anniversary celebration for the Shomron Regional Council turned into a show of strength of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria.

Some 7,000 people showed up at Raananat Park, including an unprecedented number of over 30 ministers and Knesset Members from nearly all political parties. They included Ministers Moshe Yaalon, Benny Begin, Moshe Kachlon, Daniel Herskovitz, and Yossi Peled, as well as others who came to show their admiration for the settlement enterprise in Samaria.

Click here for a review of over 40 years of Jewish settlement history in Judea, Samaria and elsewhere.

The thousands of visitors watched videos and performances by the children of the towns, as well as a first-ever joint performance by popular Israeli singers Yonatan Raz'el and Rami Kleinstein.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a recorded video address, in which he said, "You face great difficulties which we know, but you are implanted in the Shomron. I admire you. Be strong and of great courage."

It was noted that for the second year in a row, the Shomron Regional Council is the fastest-growing council in terms of population in all of Israel.  "We are building the Shomron as agents of the entire nation," Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said. "Every day I see anew that the people living here are the best in Israel. Everything that has been developed and is blossoming here is in your merit. We make history every day, and I am proud to be part of you."

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon repeated his stance that the freeze would end on time: "We wanted to renew our dialogue with our neighbors [the Palestinian Authority], and [to this end] we grit our teeth and agree to a temporary suspension of construction for ten months. As we see, the suspension did not really help. At the end of this period, we will resume building as before. This is the nature of the Jewish State and the Zionist Movement: building, settlement, development and expansion."

Minister Benny Begin reminded the audience that his father, the late former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, promised in 1977, "There will yet be many more Elon Morehs." He expressed sorrow that he felt compelled to vote in favor of the construction freeze, but said, "I repeat my solid evaluation that this coming Sukkot, on the 18th day of Tishrei [when the ten months end], the freeze will expire, and no similar order will take its place… We know that you are not working for yourselves, but for us. Be strong and of great courage."

Minister Daniel Herskovitz (Jewish Home) expressed the hope that the four Northern Shomron communities that were uprooted in the 2005 Disengagement will once again be rebuilt: "From this mountain we can see not only Ariel and Shaarei Tikvah [existing communities, ed.] , but also Homesh [destroyed, ed.] and the mountain that used to hold Sa-Nur."