Mayor of Efrat says historic agreement with UAE shows “settlements are not an obstacle to peace.”
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Leaders of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria gave a mixed review Friday to the new peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that was announced by President Donald Trump.
The two countries are expected to sign a peace treaty at the White House in the coming weeks that will see the establishment of full diplomatic relations, mutual embassies and direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.
However, Trump and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Friedman said that as part of the deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to take the issue of Israeli sovereignty over settlements in Judea and Samaria “off the table.”
“Right now all I can say, it’s off the table, so I can’t talk about some time into the future. That’s a big statement but right now it’s off the table,” Trump said at a White House press conference Thursday evening.
That decision was OK with Oded Revivi, mayor of the town of Efrat in the Gush Etzion bloc who is viewed as a staunch supporter of Netanyahu.
“The Israeli agreement to postpone the application of Israeli law in the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is a fair price” for peace, Revivi tweeted.
“I am sure that this change in perception that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace will continue to lead us in the future, and we should therefore prepare ourselves to apply Israeli law in Judea and Samaria,” Revivi said.
Other leaders were outright furious, including Beit El Council Chairman, Shai Alon, who said that settler leaders had been tricked after he had hosted Netanyahu in his own home and spoke about sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
“Even Trump spoke about Beit El. Who didn’t speak about Beit El?” Alon told the Knesset television channel. “They spoke about all the settlements.”
“And now suddenly it’s gone. I simply don’t understand how it happened. They deceived the public,” Alon said. “Our future lies in Judea and Samaria and in the courageous decisions our leaders make, not in agreements that are signed today and won’t mean anything tomorrow. We’ve been betrayed.”
The pro-Israel activist organization Im Tirtzu praised the peace deal, but called on Netanyahu to continue to push forward with sovereignty.
“Like all citizens of Israel, we desire peace and welcome this agreement. This is a historic and important milestone for the State of Israel, and we congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu on this achievement,” Im Tirtzu said in an emailed statement.
“At the same time, we call on the prime minister not to give up on applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. It is our historic right and now is the time to implement it,” Im Tirtzu said.
Like Revivi, Im Tirtzu noted that the UAE-Israel peace deal “negated the misguided ‘land for peace’ notion championed by the architects of the Oslo Accords.”
Im Tirtzu added that in the same spirit, “we need to negate the misguided ‘we can’t have peace if we upset the status quo on the Temple Mount’ notion and allow for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.”