MK Yuli Edelstein
MK Yuli EdelsteinOlivier Fitoussi/Flash90

On Sunday, Likud MK Yuli Edelstein launched the “Homesh First” Knesset lobby and led a delegation of Knesset members to the north Samarian town of Homesh. While there, Edelstein spoke with Israel National News and described the aims of the new lobby.

Edelstein described the obstacles he encountered on his way to Homesh, with security forces trying to bar entrance to journalists and parliamentary aides; ultimately, access was granted and he expressed his appreciation for the security provided at the location.

“Eventually, we are going to see Jewish settlement renewed in Homesh, with the homes rebuilt,” Edelstein said, noting that over forty Knesset members have signed up to join the lobby, including several from the coalition. “This shows that when it comes to Homesh, people are ready to fight. We are going to use all our parliamentary means to get the Disengagement Law annulled in northern Samaria, and from there move on to renewing Jewish settlement in Homesh.”

He admitted that, “It will not be easy, and I do not intend to make light of the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead of us, but it is possible to achieve,” he insisted. “The IDF is in control of the security situation here, and the only thing left wanting is a courageous policy decision. We are going to put all possible pressure on the government to move things forward.”

Asked to identify some of the lobby’s members, Edelstein said that numbering among them were Knesset members from the Yisrael Beytenu, New Hope, and Yamina parties, adding that when the issue is one of the Land of Israel, “no one needs to take credit for achievements – there’s no sense of opposition and coalition. We all work together for the Land, as I have done in the past and will continue to do. In fact, I originally established the Homesh First lobby back in 2007 together with then-MK Aryeh Eldad. Now’s the time to reestablish it. I’m not naïve regarding what we can achieve and I know that it won’t be simple, but with G-d’s help we will be successful.”

Edelstein also explained why he has chosen to name the lobby, “Homesh First.” First – and what next?

“Our next goal, after Homesh, is to renew Jewish settlement throughout northern Samaria,” he said. “That includes Sa-Nur and also Ganim and Kadim. Homesh has become a symbolic name for what we hope to achieve in terms of overturning the Disengagement that has caused so much heartache for the Jewish People; what we want to do is send a message that we believe in this process and have faith that it will happen.”

All the same, during the previous few terms of government, when Edelstein’s Likud party was the largest faction of the coalition, no progress was made toward these objectives – we asked him to explain why.

“I know where I was during the past 12 years,” Edelstein replied. “It is distressing to recall but just a few days ago, Yehuda Dimentman was murdered here. When I visited his family, I found another few Knesset members already there. Yehuda’s widow looked up and saw me, and said that she remembered how I had visited Homesh in the past, with other Knesset members. That was when I was Knesset Speaker and a government minister; I also participated in the brit milah ceremony of the dean of the Homesh Yeshiva. I haven’t changed direction simply because I’m now in the opposition.”

He added that, “I understand the point you are trying to make and I stress that I am not in the habit of promising to do things that I have no intention of doing. I know where we need to focus our efforts and I have sufficient experience in security and political issues to be able to reach tangible achievements. What we need to focus on now is stopping this government from destroying Homesh just days after Yehuda Dimentman’s murder – they have already destroyed several buildings, and now they have set their sights on the yeshiva. Once that is achieved, we will move onto more positive actions, such as rebuilding throughout Samaria.”