With a little over one week to go before the elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu went to Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in Gush Etzion on Sunday to garner support. The event, closed to the public, was celebrating the establishment of the new Yovel (jubilee) Neighborhood.
Calling for cooperation from the settler leaders present, Netanyahu said “together, we will build Israel, we’ll protect Israel and with God’s help, we will ensure the eternity of the nation of Israel.”
The Tower of the Flock: Place of the Messiah
Kfar Etzion is a religious kibbutz located in the Judean Hills between Jerusalem and Hebron. Established in 1927, it was the final stand for the last 157 Jewish defenders of Gush Etzion who were massacred by the Jordanian Legion in 1948. Gush Etzion, a major link that joins northern Israel with southern Israel, was reconquered in 1967.
Gush Etzion was first settled by Jews in 1927 when the community of Migdal Eder (the tower of the flock) was established. The farming community was wiped out in an Arab pogrom two years later. Migdal Eder was first mentioned in Genesis and is described as being near the burial place of Rachel:
Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Efrat—now Beit Lechem… Yisrael journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder. Genesis 35:19-21
The Prophet Micah describes it as the place from which the Messiah will originate:
And you, O Migdal-eder, Outpost of Fair Tzion, It shall come to you: The former monarchy shall return— The kingship of Fair Yerushalayim. Micah 4:8
Blame Gantz for Lack of Severeignty
In his address, Netanyahu blamed the delay in granting sovereignty to the region on Benny Gantz, the head of the Blue and White Party, who had rejected the unity government he formed with Likud after the last elections.
“I am here in the heart of Israel with people who are partners in the vision, partners in nostalgia. These are our roots in our land. This is our land,” Netanyahu said. Netanyahu described an understanding he developed after the 1967 war. “I realized that if we didn’t have the political power that comes from the US, they would always be able to push us out. We cannot protect all the parts of our land just through military victories. In the modern world, you can only protect through military victories if you also have victories through statesmanship. And you can only have this if you win over the public opinion.”
“Not One Brick”
Netanyahu related a meeting he had several years ago in the White House in which he was told, “You will not build, not even one brick.”
“What, not even in Gilo (a neighborhood in south Jerusalem)?” he asked.
“Not even in Gilo,” he was told. “Not anywhere, and especially not in Gush Etzion.”
“As you know, we doubled the population in Gush Etzion during those difficult years,” Netanyahu said. “Because I knew how to stand like a fortified wall before these political pressures. This is due to the decades of experience I have with public opinion in the US. In a democracy, this public opinion is the deciding factor.”
“If you cannot operate on an international level, you cannot be the prime minister of Israel, and to work with public opinion, and work with world leaders. I can do this. I am not a king but I can do this.”
“There are old communities here and there are young communities,” Netanyahu said. “We wanted to regulate [authorize] the young communities but why didn’t we succeed? The whole Likud was in favor. So why didn’t it pass? Because we were in a rotation. Benny Gantz was against it. And why were we in rotation? Because we did not receive enough mandates. I am not going back to a rotation. A government headed by me won’t be based on a rotation. A strong and stable right-wing government led by Likud under my leadership. A nationalist government that will take care of communities in Judea and Samaria, both young and old. We will build more neighborhoods here. The period of the piggybacking government is behind us.”
Netanyahu’s assessment was accurate. After forming a unity government with his opponent based on rotating the PM position with his political rival, Netanyahu supported an initiative for government ministers to issue a declaration of intent to legalize Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. This initiative was continuously blocked by Gantz.
Those who oppose allowing Jews to build communities in the Biblical heartland claim that it will create friction with the newly installed Biden administration which is pushing to create an unprecedented “Palestinian” entity inside Israel ethnically cleansed of Jews with its capital in Jerusalem.
“Yair Lapid Can’t Stand the Pressure”
Netanyahu was clearly campaigning at the event, taking jabs at Yair Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid party that is giving stiff competition to the Likud Party.
“If Lapid is elected, what will happen? He will not withstand international pressures. He for sure will not approve the regulation of “young communities,” and won’t advance development of the older ones. He will not build, and he will say that we will have to uproot communities. He said that in order to have peace with the Palestinians we will have to uproot communities. Lapid partakes in lies with other politicians. He will establish a government of rotations. This will be a ‘shakshuka’ rotation government. Don’t lend him a hand. Vote for Likud!”
“If you want to continue to build houses, to build neighborhoods, if this is your pioneering, your continuance, this land speaks to me and I am willing to fight for it.”
Netanyahu emphasized that a few other candidates, like Betzalel Smotrich of the Yamina Alliance, would also fight for Gush Etzion.
After the event in Gush Etzion, Netanyahu went for a campaign tour of the Hebron Hills.