Speaking with Daniella Weiss, the “grand old lady” of the settlement enterprise, you would never guess that she has reached her seventies. Today, her smiling face possesses the same youthfulness and charm she had during her activist years with the Gush Emunim Movement, in the 1970’s and early 80’s, when she served as its General Director. Born in Tel Aviv to an American father and Polish mother who both enlisted in the Lehi, in the battle against the British rule, and who donated their orange grove to the cause, allowing underground fighters to camp there at night to avoid capture. Daniella, as she is called whenever she is recognized by people who have seen her face and broad “mitpachat” on TV, studied English Literature and Political Science at Bar Ilan University. A longtime spokesperson for the settlement cause, her uncompromising views have often pitted her against the Yesha establishment leadership. In 1996, she became the Mayor of Kedumin (originally called Elon Moreh) the first Jewish settlement in the Shomron, which she helped to build, serving for eleven years. After the evacuation of Gush Katif in 2005, the destruction of 21 communities, and the subsequent crisis throughout the settlement movement, Daniella formed the Nachala Organization upon the encouragement of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, in order to continue the mission of Gush Emunim and the continuing building. Today, she travels around the length and breadth of the country, warning people of the hidden dangers of the Trump Peace Plan. She is the “matriarch” of the Nachala, now a large group of idealist young people who are committed to renew the spirit of Gush Emunim by buying up available tracts of land and setting the groundworks for new Jewish communities throughout Yesha.
Should Israel accept the Trump Peace Plan and go forward by placing Israeli Sovereignty over the existing Jewish communities in Yesha?
Absolutely not. The Government of Israel must reject the Plan completely. The Trump Plan is a time-bomb of terrible danger. It is a trap coated with honey. The clause regarding sovereignty is only a part of the overall Trump Plan, which is one complete piece, and which will eventually award 90% of Yesha to the Arabs.
I thought the figure was 70%.
When you remove the Jordan Valley, which is considered a part of Yesha in the Plan, and which will remain under Israeli rule, then the Arabs are to get 90% of what’s left of Yesha. Elon Moreh and Itamar will be joined to the Jordan Valley by an alternate highway, and a by-pass road will connect Kiriat Arba-Hevron to Beer Sheva. Highway 60 falls in the center of what will be a Palestinian State, G-d forbid, under Arab control. Har Bracha and Yitzhar will be totally engulfed by the Palestinian State, along with 13 other settlements. And Jerusalem will have two capitals – one for us, and one in East Jerusalem for the Arabs. By agreeing to the clause of sovereignty, we obligate Israel to all of the following clauses as well. It is an illusion to think we can take only the honey from the beehive without getting stung by the bees, including a four-year building freeze in the settlements, followed by a huge transfer of land to the Arabs, followed by the establishment of a Palestinian State. If we enter into the Plan, we will lose all control of our destiny. Who can say how it will finish?
There are settlement leaders and heads of Yesha regional councils who advocate proceeding with an immediate declaration of sovereignty, maintaining that the Arabs will never agree to the type of demilitarized Palestinian State outlined in the Plan, so Israel has nothing to fear.
That is an illusion. They are leading the public astray. Once an international agreement is publically accepted, as it already has been by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who praises it at every opportunity, it has international recognition and force, and becomes the basis for future political traps. But unlike Sharon’s bulldozing forward with the preparations to uproot Gush Katif before Knesset ratification, today we are dealing with the creation of a terrorist haven in the very heartland of the country, ten miles from Netanya and the Ben Gurion Airport, a terrible danger to the entire country. Trump may have been a friend until now, but he won’t be President forever. If a Democrat comes after him, he can easily change things as he deems fit, crossing out the demilitarization clause, for example, in order to make the Plan more palatable to the Arabs. Who knows what will be? America knows how to exert pressure. And Bibi, or whomever follows him in office, may not be able save the settlements, and to prevent the formation of a Palestinian State. Agreeing to the sovereignty section of the Trump Plan confirms the fact that Israel agrees to a Palestinian State within its borders, because the plan is a “miksha achat” – one unit, and not separate pieces which can be divided, some accepted and some not. It is a political danger, a security danger even greater than Oslo, and a grave moral danger. Not even the Gentiles are willing to give away chunks of their homeland – how much more so when we are talking about the Land which the Master of Heaven and Earth bequeathed to our Forefathers?
That is all very well and good, but Biblical promises don’t carry much weight in the United Nations.
Biblical declarations count a lot in the United States where millions of Americans believe in the Bible. The moment the American public realizes that the Trump Plan endangers the safety of the Jewish People in Israel, they will not accept it.
If not the Trump Plan, what instead?
Am Yisrael must continue to carry out the Divine commandment to conquer and settle all of the Land of Israel, and to keep it all under Jewish sovereignty. HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook said it. HaRav Goren said it. HaRav Levinger, leader of the settlement movement, proclaimed again and again that Am Yisrael must continue to build on every hilltop and in every open valley. The Zionist enterprise brought tremendous success in the past, and we must strive forward with its banner upraised. The Torah forbids us to surrender even a square centimeter of our Land to anyone. All the more so to an enemy who vows to chase us into the sea. We must build new Jewish communities all over, and expand existing settlements, both their agricultural plots and industrial parks. Politicians do not have any right whatsoever to relinquish any parcel of Eretz Yisrael, because the Land of Israel belongs to all of the Jewish People for all eternity.
What about the issue of sovereignty? Should the Government just forget about it?
If the Government isn’t prepared to declare sovereignty over all the Land of Israel, which it cannot at this time, given the lack of unity in the Nation regarding this matter, and because of the strong international and, most likely, American opposition, then, yes, the idea should be dropped. Instead of agreeing to a very limited sovereignty which is tied to the recognition of a Palestinian State, the Government of Israel should return to the Zionism which built the country, “dunam after dunam,” house after house, yishuv after yishuv, filling all corners of the Land with new Jewish communities while, at the same time, embarking on a national project of mass Aliyah to fill up the new houses and communities with Jews.
[This article reprinted with the permission of “The Jewish Press.”