Settlement leader abandons Netanyahu for Likud breakaway party

Yesha Council chairman David Elhayani: “I will vote for Gideon Saar, Netanyahu has deceived us.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

David Elhayani, chairman of the Yesha Council, the chief settlement group, announced Tuesday that he is supporting Gideon Saar’s New Hope party which broke away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party last month.

Elhayani, known for being to the far-right of the political spectrum on settlement issues, opposed Netanyahu’s effort to annex larges swathes of Judea and Samaria as part of Trump’s Mideast plan because it included the possibility of a Palestinian state. Other settlement leaders had supported it.

What appears to have sparked Elhayani’s latest decision was the government’s failure to “regularize” 46 settlements housing some 25,000 people. Doing so would have given them the ability to hook up to Israel’s water and electrical grid.

Elhayani made his remarks at a protest tent outside the prime minister’s Jerusalem office where a hunger strike is taking place over the 46 settlements. Two settlement leaders have already been taken to hospital after collapsing.

“Netanyahu left the values ​​of the Likud, I will always remain true to the values ​​of the national camp,” Elhayani said on Tuesday, according to website Srugim.

“When Netanyahu declares two states for two peoples, when Netanyahu draws the borders of the Palestinian terrorist state on 70% of the territories of Judea and Samaria, when Netanyahu does not regulate young settlements and freezes settlements, when Netanyahu deceived me and the Jordan Valley – he promised to apply Israeli sovereignty – this is not a right-wing prime minister,” Elhayani said.

“I have good friends in the Likud, I love and embrace them, it’s hard to leave the house, the house I love so much, but Netanyahu destroyed it,” Elhayani said, adding that the new home for old Likud values was with New Hope, which Saar formed last month in a bid to unseat Netanyahu.

Of several Likud members who also bolted the party and joined Saar, Elhayani said that he believed in “their honesty, in their sincerity to bring hope and good news to the State of Israel” and called on the settlements to vote for Saar in Israel’s upcoming national election on March 23.

Channel 20 News political reporter Erez Zadok noted that Elhayani wasn’t running for the Knesset on Saar’s list, but only throwing his support behind him.

“A very serious mistake in my eyes, but his right,” Zadok tweeted, noting that Elhayani’s support would not turn New Hope more to the right and saying Saar is boycotting most of the right and “goes with the extreme left.”

Last week, a former settlement leader and recently retired Israeli consul to New York Dani Dayan, joined Saar’s party. Dayan’s “knowledge of American society and the political system” would be “especially valuable,” Saar said.