Israel Won't Uproot Any More Settlements, Netanyahu Says in Visit to West Bank

'If it's up to me, there won't be any more halting settlements,' Israeli premier tells residents of the partially-evacuated settlement of Netiv Ha'avot and says demolition of their homes was 'a mishap'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot on January 28, 2019.
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday during a visit to the outpost of Netiv Ha’avot in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, that if it was up to him, “There won’t be any more uprooting or halting settlements - just the opposite: The Land of Israel is ours, and will remain ours.”

Netanyahu met with residents of the West Bank outpost after ordering to allocate tens of millions of shekels to build a permanent neighborhood for them, promising that “What fell will rise, it’s ours, we’re building here and you’re living here.”

The premier also addressed the investigations into the corruption cases he is embroiled in. “I’m asked all the time, how can you withstand all the investigations and the attacks against your family? I can do so thanks to this place - your sense of mission. We’ve returned to the homeland, to Netiv Ha’avot (i.e. the route of our ancestors in Hebrew). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob passed by here. We’ve been here for 3,000 years.”

Netanyahu said that the order to evacuate 15 homes in the neighborhood in June was a “mishap,” and that a new neighborhood would be built, and “nobody will uproot us.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with residents of the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot on January 28, 2019.
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Bradley Burston describes his visit to the West Bank with settler leader Daniella WeissHaaretz

"We're a country that abides by the rule of law and we are subjected to High Court rulings. The home where this child was raised has been demolished but we won't have it anymore and that's why we are building this new neighborhood. There children will have homes here, we did not come back here after thousands of years only to be uprooted, nobody will uproot us."

The houses were evacuated due to a petition to the High Court of Justice by Israeli left-wing NGO Peace Now and local Palestinian landowners, about 18 years after the settlers took control of the land. Of the 15 structures, six are partly situated on privately-owned Palestinian land that divides them lengthwise. The government tried to prevent the demolition with various plans, such as “sawing off” parts of the houses so as to avoid evacuating the residents. The solutions didn’t work out and the High Court ordered the demolition of the houses in their entirety.

The other 25 buildings in the outpost will remain in place. Last February, the government allocated 60 million shekels ($16 million) for the evacuation, a sum that includes compensation to individuals and to the regional council as well as funds for the infrastructure of a temporary residential site. During the evacuation, demonstrators threw stones and objects at the police and wounded six of them. Three people, two of them minors, were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a policeman.