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The Jewish Town of Bet El, located just outside of Ramallah, has launched three separate public building initiatives in the last three weeks: 1) an 18-unit housing project in the Hasmonean Neighborhood, 2) a 30-unit housing project of replacement homes for the 30 units taken down on the Ulpana Hill last year, and 3) a new multi-million dollar Bet Midrash (House of Study) for the Bet El Yeshiva Center.
The 30 Ulpana replacement homes - Great view from future den window
In a conversation this morning with newly-elected Bet El Mayor Shai Alon, I learned that additional housing projects totaling over 600 units are at various stages of planning (some advanced!) in Bet El, adjacent to the ancient archaeological site which carries the same name..
The first three projects above are the initiative of Bet El Institutions. This educational network is driven to build units for its growing student body which include many young families. To help fund the projects, they will offer some of the units for sale to others including Jews immigrating to Israel from the Diaspora.
The Palestinian Authority also lays claim to Bet El. It says that there never was a Jewish Commonwealth in Israel, that King David and King Solomon were Muslim, that there never was a Jewish temple on what is commonly known as Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, and that the numerous bible stories about Jewish life and prophets in Bet El are part of a modern Zionist plot.
The 18 Units in Bet El's Hasamonean Neighborhood
Can the Bet El Institutions’ building blitz actually influence the outcome of this ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?
The answer is a resounding “yes.” And that “yes,” was reinforced in a December 2013 article by Israeli commentator Ben Caspit.
Caspit, who wholly supports the surrender of Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank) to the Palestinian Authority, wrote in the Al Monitor Newspaper:
“But the fact is that many in Israel are starting to believe that this attempt [to hold negotiations that would bring a two-state solution and the end of the conflict] has no chance. That the settlers and their powerful lobby have succeeded in creating an irreversible reality. That there’s no force in Israel that is capable of removing tens of thousands of settlers. That there’s no feasible political scenario that will enable Israel to carry out honest and real negotiations, or implement any kind of agreement, that is reached — if it is reached — by the two sides. The feeling in the Israeli left and center is that the settlers won. That they have set the facts on the ground.”
Question: Why do Ben Caspit [pictured on the right] and his friends conclude that the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is an “irreversible reality”? That it will be impossible to “implement any kind of agreement that is reached”?
Answer: When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expelled 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif (Jewish Gaza) in 2005, the
attempt to resettle the expelled Jews was a colossal failure by all standards.
Ben Caspit and his friends know well that building projects like those started this month in Bet El have increased the Jewish population in the disputed territories to 374,000 (as of Dec. 31, 2013. The figure does not include another 330,000 Jews living in eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem).
According to Palestinian claims that their new state be utterly Judenrein (clean of Jews), the attempt to resettle all 700,000 Jews would amount to 11.5% of the Jewish population of Israel. In America that would equal resettling over 36 million civilians. Even a small fragment of that figure renders the dream of Ben Caspit and his friends unfeasible.
Bet El's old Bet Midrash behind the grounds of the new one
Ben Caspit further wrote:
“When I understand that the possibility of persuading Israelis that we must separate from the Palestinians is dissipating, in light of the fact that many believe that it’s possible to continue to hold on to the current situation without paying the price.”
Ben Caspit recognizes that he represents a shrinking minority in Israel who side with those international powers who would crush the inalienable rights of the Jewish Nation to sovereignty in its own territory. He and his friends are losing hope that they will succeed in ”persuading Israelis” of their once popular political opinions.
Despite boycott threats and pressures from the world’s superpowers, Israel’s democracy elected a government which adamantly defends the rights of its indigenous Jewish population to live with freedom and dignity in the entirety of its homeland. The government of Israel and many of its friends overseas support the right of return of the Jewish People to all their country including Judea and Samaria.
Ben Caspit recently attended a private dinner in Jerusalem with European Parliament President Martin Schulz. According to Ben Caspit’s Feb. 2014 article in AL Monitor, Schulz heard directly from Obama that “if Secretary of State John Kerry comes home empty-handed, the White House will wash its hands of the attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Against ever mounting hurdles and pressures, Bet El launched its building blitz to secure rights and freedoms for future generations of Jews. Each home that goes up in Bet El directly impacts the chances for international pressures to succeed in shrinking Israel.
With each brick laid in Bet El, Kerry’s initiative becomes all the more unrealistic and meaningless.