Construction as Revenge

Rabbi Raziels murder in a terror attack in the West Bank is a terrible tragedy, but calling for more land theft is not 'a proper Zionist response'

The funeral of a rabbi and resident of Havat Gilad murdered the day prior in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, January 10 2018.
Olivier Fitouss

The murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach of the West Bank settlement outpost Havat Gilad is a tragic reminder of the needless risk Jews take when they decide to live in the territories amid a Palestinian population teeming with anti-Israeli activity. Every such attack frays the illusion that the Palestinians have come to terms with Israels presence in the territories and that they are giving up their national struggle, including by means of terror.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

Jews who decide that precisely this deadly arena is the worthiest place to live take a heavy responsibility upon themselves, and not only for their lives and those of their families. They also place a burden on the state and its citizens to protect their lives as if they were residents of Israel and not of occupied territory, where, according to international law, they are prohibited from living. It is unfortunate that not only does the state cooperate with this irresponsibility, it encourages the ideology of illegal settlement, which relies on divine commandment.

The government understands the danger of living in the territories, as shown by the huge military presence there. Nevertheless, it continues to encourage construction in the settlements and legalizing of illegal outposts. One of these is Havat Gilad, which was built without a permit, and although it was dismantled during severe clashes between the army and the settlers, it came back to life and a yeshiva was even built there.

After Rabbi Raziels murder, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered that methods of regularizing this outpost, too, be examined. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said: The only revenge is construction, and Shomron Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan demanded that 100 housing units be built immediately at the outpost.

Construction as revenge has long been settlement strategy, which has given rise to dozens of outposts as retaliation for the murder of Jews. Defining this as a proper Zionist response is intended to give a proper ideological framework for Israeli illegal activity, land theft and intentional sabotage of the possibility of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians.

Rabbi Raziels murder is a terrible tragedy, which fills the heart with deep sorrow for his wife and children. But this is a price the government takes into account when it thwarts any possibility of an arrangement with the Palestinians and invests efforts in humiliating them and their leaders. This murder must not be allowed to legitimize, and certainly not to expand, the crime of settlement.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.