President Reuven Rivlin expressed sympathy on Monday for Israeli settlers faced with a recent upswing of violence in the West Bank, while also cautioning against extra-legal activities.
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Speaking at the President's Residence to a group of elected officials from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the president said that "over the past months and especially over the last few days, the communities of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] have faced very serious terror attacks... The settlements are at the forefront of the struggle, and the price paid by the settlers is a painful price indeed."
According to Rivlin, "Our sovereignty in this land means responsibility for all those who live here, and obliges all of us to uphold the strictest of moral codes, which is inherent in each and every one of us."
Underlining his support for residents of West Bank settlements, the president added: "Our right to this land is not a matter of political debate. It is a basic fact of modern Zionism. We must not give anyone the sense that we are in any doubt about our right to our land. For me, the settlement of the land of Israel is an expression of that right, our historical right, our national right, stemming from a love for the land of Israel, [and] from a recognition of our roots, which come together here."
The chairman of the Judea and Samaria Council, Avi Roeh, made reference at the meeting to what he called "the building freeze" in Jewish settlements, and complained in particular of what he said was a halt to Israeli building of infrastructure and future planning in the settlements.
Rivlin, who was an MK in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, has a long record of support for the settlement enterprise. Since his 2014 election as president, he has also made efforts to identify with the concerns of Arab-Israelis. Last year he attended the 58th anniversary commemoration of the killing of residents of the Israeli-Arab town of Kafr Qasem, and he quickly condemned the recent firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Duma that killed an 18-month-old child and his father. Jewish settlers are suspected of perpetrating the bombing.