(March 3, 2022 / JNS) The Sovereignty Movement recently organized a tour of Judea and Samaria for public figures, journalists, social media influencers and others to explore the complexities and dichotomies of life in the region.
The February 23 meeting – under the leadership of Yehudit Katzover and Nadia Matar – focused on explaining the situation on the ground in many areas, including diplomacy, infrastructure, education, environmental issues, employment and quality of life for Jewish and Arab residents of Judea. and Samaria.
The tour was led by Yigal DilmoniCEO of the YESHA Council, which represents Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (and formerly Gaza).
On the one hand, a tour of a plastics factory in the industrial area of Barkan near the city of Ariel revealed how Jews and Arabs could coexist daily in the factory to earn a living and provide for the needs of their families.
On the other hand, a visit to a viewpoint in northern Samaria provided insight into the construction of a new road being built to bypass an Arab village – not only to make it faster for Israeli commuters to reach central business districts of the country, but to allow Jewish motorists to avoid driving through the village, so that they are no longer subject to the threat of rock attacks by local Arabs on a base regular.
During a stop at the Psagot Winery, which has been a leading business entity in the fight against European labeling of Israeli products from Judea and Samaria as ‘settlement goods’ as opposed to ‘made in Israel’ “, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a professor at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University and an expert on the Middle East and the Islamic world, underlined how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only territorial but is a religious conflict where the “Jew” and not only the State of Israel is considered the enemy.
Kedar said that when he is interviewed or debated on Arab TV channels, he asks if the question is about the establishment of a Palestinian state. “During the 19 years between 1948 and 1967, when Judea and Samaria were under the control of the Jordanians, why did they not establish a Palestinian state for their brothers, as they now demand of Israel, because they had so many opportunities to do it during that period, he asked.
He explained that the problem is not just the land, and specifically that Muslims have had theological problems with the Jewish people from the time of the Prophet Muhammad until today – a worldview in which Jews are not entitled to equal human rights.
Kedar added that the reason the Abraham Accords succeeded is that they were based exclusively on financial/economic agreements and did not address religious issues.
He concluded that Israel must assert itself in order to force Muslims to accept that they sign a temporary peace agreement, and if Israel maintains its strength and unity, one day peace can become permanent.
Back on the bus, Dilmoni explained how the Palestinian Authority was moving full steam ahead to implement the 2009 “Fayyad Plan” – establishing facts on the ground in strategic areas of Area C using millions dollars of European Union funding, in order to create a de facto Palestinian state without negotiations.
Dilmoni said that over the past decade, 75,000 illegal structures have been built in Area C, with an average of five new buildings per day, and that in his view the Israeli Civil Administration has been ineffective in the fight against illegal construction.
The bus then stopped in Wadi Haramiya, where the group saw what initially appeared to be a beautiful stream, but in reality the unbearable smell came from sewage from a local Palestinian-controlled aluminum factory near from Ramallah.
Iche Meir, former CEO of the Association of Samaria Cities for Environmental Quality, told the group that the putrid river pollutes Israel’s Mountain Ridge Aquifer, the country’s main source of drinking water, as it also weaves its way into the streams of the coastal plain below.
Meir said Israel’s attempts to work with the PA to find solutions to these kinds of rampant pollution problems have been met with hostility.
At the same time, he blamed the civil administration for acting as a “temporary occupier” unwilling to find long-term solutions. He asserted that “the mentality of the administration is based on maintaining peace and tranquility. They explain that as long as the Palestinian economy is flourishing, [Arabs] will not focus on throwing stones at Israeli cars.
At a vantage point of the Kfar Tapuach community in Northern Samaria, Matanya Shapira, Deputy Managing Director of the YESHA Council, presented detailed maps of ongoing road infrastructure projects as well as future plans that will benefit both Jews than to Arabs, as there is a substantial increase in both populations in the region.
He explained that following the Oslo Accords, various roads to bypass Arab villages were planned, including the current Hawara village bypass road. The village suffers from heavy traffic jams and stone-throwing aimed at Israeli cars,
However, Shapira said a master plan for transportation throughout Judea and Samaria had never been devised until recently. According to him, the plan will improve the infrastructure on the roads, some of which have not been renovated since the Ottoman era, reduce traffic and facilitate access to the center of the country.
“We need infrastructure for both populations, so we can all thrive,” Shapira said. He said that so far, “left-wing extremists were fine with making life miserable for Arabs in order to harm ‘settlers’, while right-wing extremists were harming ‘settlers’ just to make life miserable. to the Arabs. Those in the middle realize that you have to serve both populations.
The group then visited the Department of Agriculture at Ariel University to learn about the latest developments in wine production in Israel.
Then economist Eran Bar-Tal addressed the group in a university lecture hall, sharing his theory on how applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria would benefit the whole country economically. – especially in the area of housing, as Israel is experiencing a housing shortage and soaring prices.
Finally, it was at the Lipsky Plastics manufacturing plant in Barkan, which specializes in plumbing equipment. The factory has 110 employees, including 75 Palestinians, as well as Israeli Arabs and Jews. Thirty percent of the company’s products are exported abroad.
Factory manager Yehuda Cohen pointed out that at his factory, Jews and Arabs received comparable wages and had equal opportunities for advancement. He said economic cooperation is the true basis of coexistence.
Regarding the BDS movement’s promotion of a boycott of products made by Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria, Cohen said, “If we produce quality goods and provide good service, our customers will buy our products. It’s the left wing media that put BDS on the map…in order to try to hurt us here.