Netanyahu and Oded Revivi
Netanyahu and Oded ReviviCredit: Gerson Ellinson

Reports of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's intention to hold a discussion in the Knesset regarding approving additional Palestinian Arab construction in Area C alongside approval of Jewish construction, are causing controversy among senior settlement leaders.

Regional council leaders, including heads of Samaria, Benjamin and Gush Etzion consider the plan a delusional and dangerous move. Yesha Council head Hananel Dorani views the move as a surrender to the illegal construction phenomenon.

On the other hand, Efrat Council head Oded Revivi sees things completely differently. "We have been living in Judea and Samaria for decades alongside Arabs. The vision of settlement means that we will stay here forever and since there is an Arab population here that cannot be deported, living conditions should be arranged to allow both populations to live side by side."

"Regavim makes claims against the illegal construction of the Arabs and in order to regulate it, the prime minister is saying to meet in the Cabinet and discuss the where, when and how. At the same time, we will unfreeze and plan thousands of units for the Jewish population. If it is clear that there will be enforcement against the rampant [illegal] construction and there will be an expansion of Jewish settlement, in my opinion, this is the essence of strengthening settlement in Judea and Samaria."

On the argument that further construction in Area C adds to the problem of illegal Palestinian Arab construction precisely near Jewish communities and traffic areas, Revivi says, "I'm not present at the cabinet meetings and I don't know all the claims that are brought up there but Jewish and Arab populations have always settled near water sources. This was the case in the past and today as well. The cabinet will have to check where it is good for us for them to build and their illegal buildings will be enforced, and the places that we can approve will reduce some of the pressure."

Regarding his fellow council heads' opposition to the reports, Revivi said, "To my knowledge, there has been no orderly discussion. Some people react instinctively. There are those who don't think about how to move forward. We need to examine things in-depth and not respond with "no" to everything. It's also wrong for us to be portrayed as saying "no" all the time. Sovereignty becomes an inheritance that everyone understands and governance is a part of sovereignty."