Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichArutz Sheva

Religious Zionism party chairman Bezalel Smotrich toured Gush Etzion today (Thursday). In an interview with Arutz Sheva, he describes the insights he gained from the tour on the struggle over land in Judea and Samaria.

"This struggle is being conducted today by just one side. In the Palestinian Authority, this is being conducted like a military operation with a dedicated office and a lot of manpower and investment budget, and on the other hand, there is almost complete incompetence on the part of the Israeli side," says Smotrich.

According to him, the required response should include both a stage of stopping the harm and a stage of doing good. "A lot of enforcement is needed in the face of these phenomena and of course construction and development, farms and agriculture. There is a lot to do," he says. "Efrat, which is the heart of Gush Etzion and is within the consensus, and this struggle is being waged here, neither on the fringes nor in the backyard, in an attempt to narrow the area for settlement and take over all the spaces that will allow future development."

According to Smotrich, although Israel is very late in waging this battle, it is better late than never, as he puts it. Smotrich does not make assumptions about the Netanyahu government's conduct on this issue and says: "We have harsh criticism of Netanyahu and the Likud in this matter and we will demand in the coalition agreements the establishment of a special authority to regulate the young settlements, just as there is an authority to regulate Bedouin settlements in the Negev."

"A very significant gap here needs to be filled," states Smotrich, mentioning the state of the young settlements which do not receive basic services such as regulated water and electricity. He also mentions the decision-making proposal that was blocked by Defense Minister Benny Gantz after an agreement had already been reached in the government.

Addressing the polls which predict his party winning only five seats in the elections later this month, five seats, Smotrich says his party is not content with that and is now working on rising to six or seven seats and rising beyond that. "There is only one party that has a commitment to religious Zionism, as a public as a way of life and also undertakes to sit only in the right-wing government and not go on adventures with left-wing parties. We must remember that with left-wing parties the values ​​of religious Zionism cannot be realized, not in Jewish identity, or in the Negev and the Galilee, neither in the removal of the infiltrators nor in the necessary amendments to the legal system."

"Without fixing the justice system, a right-wing government is meaningless. It will be impossible to regulate the settlements because the Supreme Court will disqualify it. It will not be possible to expel the infiltrators because the Supreme Court will disqualify. It will not be possible to preserve Jewish identity because the Supreme Court recognizers the Reformers and there are many other petitions. This cannot be done with Yair Lapid, Meirav Michaeli, and Nitzan Horowitz."

Addressing the decision of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation against Israel, Smotrich says that this is an anti-Semitic decision that stems from hatred of Israel. "It should be remembered that the perpetrator of this incident is the Palestinian Authority, which lives on our generosity and which we artificially sustain. We cannot uphold this authority while it promotes legal warfare against us. Immediate sanctions are needed against the leadership of this authority to bring it to the point of collapse. If there are no prosecutors, there will be no proceedings and no investigations."