Jewish historical artifacts and sites have long been endangered and often destroyed by Palestinian Arabs attempting to erase indigenous Jewish history from the Holy Land.
In contrast, at least in theory, preserving the environment is advantageous to everyone, no matter what their narrative. That, however, is far from the case. A city on pristine Judead Desert sands is being built illegally by the Palestinian Authority. A desire to cut off Jewish communities trumps environmental considerations and ignores the rules signed by both sides in the Oslo Accords.
“Welcome to Osloland,” was the greeting extended by Mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council to Minister of Environmental Protection, Idit Silman, with reference to the illegal use of environmental contractual reserve in the region. “We are obligated and would like to establish organized reinforcement regarding everything related to the conservation of nature in the State of Israel,” was the minister’s response.
Minister of Environmental Protection, Idit Silman (Likud), arrived for a visit to the contractual reserve area during hol hamo’ed Sukkot, accompanied by Mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, and Chairman of the Yesha Council, Shlomo Ne’eman. The Gush Etzion Regional Council initiated an all-encompassing public struggle against the illegal city being built in the Judean Desert in violation of the Oslo Accords.
While “Minister Silman, welcome to Osloland,” were Ne’eman’s opening words to the minister, he added, “This is a place abandoned by the state, where an Arab city is currently being constructed with the aim of separating Gush Etzion from the Dead Sea.”
Ne’eman turned to Silman, saying, “You believe in preserving nature in the State of Israel, and we ask you to act together with all the other ministers and demand reinforcement, demand the entry of our forces, put a stop to the violations, and let this nation repossess its nature.”
The Minister of Environmental Protection, Idit Silman, made mention of her previous visit to the area with the council head, and added that the appearance of the area after several months is very disturbing. “The construction is progressing at a tremendous pace. Each time we come here, one sees massive construction and the corruption of nature.” Silman continued by agreeing that “the environment has no borders, and that what occurs in one area impacts the other areas. Therefore, we are obligated and would like to establish organized reinforcement regarding everything related to the conservation of nature in the State of Israel.
“Shlomo, we stand with you in this important fight.”
The minister also made reference to the political aspect, as well as the Jewish communities, as they related to the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to turn Gush Etzion into an enclave and create a continuum of Arab territory. She mentioned the discussion on the subject that the prime minster is expected to hold soon, following the struggle of the Gush Etzion Regional Council over the issue.
As mentioned, Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled a discussion on the subject of the contractual reserve following the visit to the area by Minister of Communities in Judea/Samaria and National Missions Orit Strock, who presented material from the Gush Etzion Council at the cabinet meeting.
After the Mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Shlomo Ne’eman, moved his office to the contractual reserve, as part of his fight against the construction in the reserve, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also visited the area, together with members of the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus, and their chairman, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein.
All the information has been made clear. The next step has to be government action to save a natural and irreplaceable treasure, the Judean Desert.
Josh Hasten contributed to this article.