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Settlers confident Israel will lurch rightwards in election
Published Monday 14/01/2013 (updated) 17/01/2013 20:05
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Armed settlers pictured in Hebron. (MaanImages/file)

HEBRON (Reuters) -- Entrenched in what they view as their biblical heartland, the hardline Jewish settlers of Hebron look forward with delight to next week's Israeli election.

Opinion polls forecast Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already at odds with the world over Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, will easily win a third term in office, with coalition partners who could push him further to the right.

The pro-settler Bayit Yehudi, a natural ally of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, is forecast to be the third largest faction in parliament. Two Bayit Yehudi candidates - Hebron settlers - have a real chance of winning legislative seats.

"The feeling is good," said Hebron settler Anat Cohen.

"It is clear that the people of Israel want a national government, a Jewish government that wants the land of Israel with Judea and Samaria," she said, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

Hebron, divided by a 1997 interim peace deal, is home to 200,000 Palestinians and 800 Jews, who live in a closely-guarded enclave and are among the most ideologically driven of the 500,000 settlers on land Palestinians want for a state.

Settlement projects on land Israel occupied in 1967 are considered illegal by the international community, which frequently criticize them as an obstacle to peace.

Settler Haim Bleicher, 30, said Israelis no longer believe there is a chance for peace with the Palestinians.

"There is a sobering-up from the illusion of peace agreements and there is more faith among the people, who believe more and are getting closer to the Torah, to the Bible," said Bleicher, who has lived in Hebron all his life.

"This change finds its expression in politics too," he said as the Muslim call to prayer carried over the valley from a nearby mosque.

Redemption

Few Israelis doubt that Netanyahu will win the Jan. 22 election. Polls show Likud, merged with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu, is set to be the biggest party with about 34 of parliament's 120 seats.

That should be enough for Netanyahu to put together a right-wing coalition bloc to govern the country.

He has already announced settlement expansion plans that include, for the first time, construction in the E1 area near Jerusalem that could split the West Bank and further dim prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The people of Israel are marching with a clear, definite majority toward a wide land, a right-wing state with a Jewish, national, character and we believe that this is the beginning of the complete redemption," Cohen said. "This gives us resolve in facing our enemies."

Just two months ago, pro-settler hardliners swept the primaries in an internal Likud vote that tossed out some of Netanyahu's closest allies, seen by some party members as lagging in their support of settlements.

One Likud candidate likely to win a Knesset seat is Moshe Feiglin, a far-right settler who has twice challenged Netanyahu for leadership of the party and is now number 23 on its list of parliamentary candidates.

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem this month, Feiglin advocated Israeli annexation of the West Bank and provision of financial inducements to encourage Palestinians to leave.

"Every Arab family in Judea and Samaria can be given an incentive of half a million dollars to encourage their emigration to a place where they will find a better future," Feiglin said, adding that it was the only "real solution".

Annexation

The conference was organized by settler leaders and attended by hundreds. Three other Likud lawmakers, including one Likud minister, called there for application of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, home to 2.5 million Palestinians who exercise limited self-rule in some of the territory.

Such a plan is advocated by Naftali Bennett, head of Bayit Yehudi and a natural ally of Netanyahu. He calls for the eventual annexation of more than half of the West Bank and says a Palestinian state would be "suicide" for Israel.

Since winning his party's leadership in November, Bennett has shot to campaign stardom. The high-tech millionaire has revamped Bayit Yehudi with fresh, new faces calling for peace and unity within Israel's ethnically-fraught society.

But Israeli critics of Bennett says his party list includes some very hawkish candidates. Bennett cites security concerns for annexation of the West Bank. Others in his party look to the Jewish scriptures.

"This land was given to us by God," Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, number four on the Bayit Yehudi roster, said at the settler conference in Jerusalem. "We have no right to forgo one grain of this land."

Many Hebron settlers see themselves as pioneers, carrying the torch for Jews who inhabited the city on and off for centuries, at times banished by conquerors. The community was driven out by the killing of 67 Jews by Arabs in 1929. Many of the surviving Jewish families were hidden by Palestinian families.

In more recent times, Hebron has been a flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence, notably the massacre by a Jewish settler of 29 Muslims praying in a site holy to both religions in 1994. Its entrance has since been divided.

Through narrow alleyways manned by Israeli soldiers, buses unload tourists at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, burial site of Jewish forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives.

For Muslims, who built the Ibrahimi mosque there, the three are seen as prophets in their religious tradition.

Although Hebron has largely been quiet for years, settlers and Palestinians make no secret of their mutual enmity.

"The Jewish people are not bad people," said a Palestinian merchant, who did not want to give his name. "But the settlers are," he said, rolling his eyes in exasperation.

King Bibi

Bleicher said Israel's shift to the right will embolden Netanyahu in the face of international pressure.

"He is not a sole ruler, ultimately it is up to which way the wind is blowing among the people and once the people and the Knesset emanate power, Benjamin Netanyahu will tune himself to that and find the strength," Bleicher said.

Settlers in Hebron felt betrayed by Netanyahu in his first term in office, when his government handed over 80 percent of the city to Palestinian rule in 1997.

In 2009 he kicked off his second term by announcing he embraced a two-state solution and by freezing all settlement construction for 10 months. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 when the freeze ended.

Though Netanyahu has since come under strong international condemnation for his government's subsequent expansion of settlements, people here still hold a grudge against him.

"Bibi made all the possible mistakes in regard to Hebron," Cohen said, using Netanyahu's childhood nickname. "I suppose he says everything he does because he is not strong enough."

David Wilder, a spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron, said he was concerned Netanyahu could opt against a right-wing coalition.

"It is very difficult to know where Netanyahu will go. We hope and expect, because there are many people in the Likud who are very strongly right-wing, that he will form a right-wing coalition, but I won't believe it until I see it," Wilder said.

"We have to offer peace for peace, there is no reason to offer land for peace," he added. "We can live with anybody under the condition that they don't try to kill us and they are willing to live peacefully within the framework of the state of Israel."

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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1 ) Robert Haymond / Israel-Gush Etzion
14/01/2013 17:42
Congratulations to the author for writing what appears to be a reasonably accurate article without the usual Maan attribute of telling half-truths and making unbalanced reports. I'll add two points in need of clarification: 1) during most of the ten-month building freeze, Abbas absolutely refused to come to the negotiating table, rendering Bibi's formidable attempt very damaging to Israeli interests. 2) In 1929, those Jews not murdered, raped and mutilated by Arabs all escaped to Jerusalem.

2 ) Mel / USA
14/01/2013 17:59
Such sick"confidence"shows how low TWISTED,SOCIOPATHIC Nazi-like Revisionist 'Jabotinsky-land' Israel has SUNK! Anyone who's proud of that "confidence"in brutal,regressive,Zionist tribalism,should be joining al-Qaida,or converting to Wahhabism? O,that's right! Their our USG's BFF's already! In USA we've our own lunatic fringe too,in the Absolutist Christian Zionists,who 'rapturously'support Jewish Fascism,thru' a suicidal love-hate"bond".And both factions would destroy USA,Israel &democracy too!

3 ) Jihane / Palestine/France
14/01/2013 22:05
And if anyone has any doubts about how right-wing these settler thugs are, then just read Robert Haymond's comments on Ma'an. He's a Canadian who's now squatting on Palestinian land in the West Bank, but calls it Israel. By the way, I'm surprised that Ma'an lets that go through the moderation. I wonder if Robert Haymond is on the olive-tree-uprooting team or the dump-sewage-into-Palestinian-farmland team. Anyhow as he's a newcomer maybe he still has his stuff in his suitcase. All that easier...

4 ) jerry / usa
14/01/2013 22:14
There is no reason to offer land for peace? Obviosly the machine gun toting settlers feel pretty cocky about annexing the West Bank, and doing exactly what in Gaza we might wonder, sell tickets to settler camps supporters like previously, enjoying the carnage ? Settlers are very insecure people or they wouldnt be carrying automatic weapons around with them for security, People who God gifts with land would'nt need politicians Sanhedrin bribing government officials in ten nations would they? well

5 ) Outlier / USA
14/01/2013 23:08
One corner of the electorate does not an election make.

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/01/2013 23:48
' Israel will lurch rightwards in election...' One can always hope. The further to the right Israel goes, the sooner she will cease to exist.

7 ) gabi / australia
15/01/2013 02:01
Robert Haymond - up to your tricks again? Lying again? Where did you get your info about "those Jews not murdered, raped, mutilated . . ." Where are the reports of murder, rape and mutilation? (Other than Zionist BS) And consider that perhaps you Zionists' insistence of the Bible as your right to occupy the land is the root cause of the failure of any so-called peace process, because it leaves no room for negotiation. Unless negotiation means "we get all the land and you Pals. can go jump."

8 ) Abdul-Rahman / Canaan
15/01/2013 03:03
The Zionist propagandist troll "Haymond" (who is a Slavo-Turkic KHAZAR! As Dr. Eran Elhaik has now proven, Zionists you must be so angry about Dr. Elhaik proving beyond all doubt you are Khazars not from Palestine lol, "The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses" Genome Biol Evol (2012) doi: 10.1093/gbe/evs119 First published online: December 14, 2012) is speaking of an uprising in 1929 were more Palestinians were killed overall.

9 ) Abdul-Rahman / Canaan/Palestine
15/01/2013 03:05
"There was the 1929 Buraq Wall demonstrations against the domination of the site by Jews who were BACKED by the British Mandate that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and Jews" Over 100 Palestinians were massacred in 1929 by the British Zionist backers with Arthur James Balfour and the usurious Rothschild bankers working together. Despite this even Jews involved in this 1929 situation say Palestinians helped them and sheltered them and they disavow today's fascist goldsteins.

10 ) Abdul-Rahman / Canaan/Palestine
15/01/2013 03:08
Historian Ilan Pappe "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine"; Al-Dawayima massacre, Tantura massacre, Deir Yassin massacre, etc etc by the Khazar Zionist criminals (Dr. Eran Elhaik's new genetic study showing/PROVING beyond any doubt that "Jews" equal and are Slavo-Turkic Khazars as linguist Paul Wexler also proved in the past also! Dr. Eran Elhaik "The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses" Genome Biol Evol (2012) doi: 10.1093/gbe/evs119

11 ) gabi / australia
16/01/2013 02:15
Abdul/Rahman - thanks for that. But what I was really questioning was the alleged "rape and mutilation" at that time, referred to by Robert Haymond. And is he of Khazar decent? Really interesting! No legitimate claim to any Middle East ancestry at all! I'd like to see him answer this claim. DNA testing, Mr. Haymond? Arthur Koestler also writes about these people and how and why they became Jewish - and he is hardly what anyone could call a "self-hating Jew" or "anti-Semite." Or "traitor".

12 ) Robert Haymond / Israel-Gush Etzion
17/01/2013 07:17
"Proving without any doubt that Jews..." The study by Eran Elhaik has already been cast in scholarly controversy, gabi and Abdul-Rahman. Try being decent researchers yourself and consider the 2010 study by Harry Ostrer, et al, as well as Ostrer's new book on the genetic origin of the Jewish people. Of course you won't because it doesn't back up your ridiculous assertions.

13 ) Robert Haymond / Israel-gush Etzion
17/01/2013 07:50
gabi: The 1929 massacre of the Jews of Hebron is described in many many articles. You can actually spend the energy to research the evidence using Google. In short, after hundreds of years of living peacefully in Hebron, the small Jewish population was attacked and massacred by members of the surrounding Arab population. Sixty were murdered and their bodies desecrated. All homes and property pillaged, women raped. The survivors all fleed to Jerusalem.

14 ) Robert Haymond / Israel-Gush Etzion
17/01/2013 07:55
It does strike me as strange that such a host of commentators (Talkbackers) spend so much time focussing and hating Israel and its people when, just yesterday, 41 western employees of BP were murdered by Islamists in Algeria and a car bomb exploded in Syria killing over 30 civilians and, the day before, over 80 people were killed in this ongoing civil war in which over 100,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, many without shelter or food. Is this not worthy of your concerns?

15 ) carine / UK
17/01/2013 12:16
#14 - It strikes me as strange that you always manage to insert at least one piece of misleading information (lies) in your irrelevant-to-the-article posts, but I guess it's what you get paid for. One western BP employee was killed, 41 were taken hostage. You propagandists always point to others wrong-doing, hoping to divert away from your own. Well, it doesn't cut any ice with most commentators on here, who are well able to absorb multiple bits of info, and make comment on the relevant threads!

16 ) gabi / australia
18/01/2013 01:26
Robert Haymond - yawn! more of the "they did it so we can too"? And why is it that you always jump on anything to do with Muslims killing people,when Israelis are allowed to? I have NEVER seen you condemning anything that Israel has done. EVER. No-one in their right mind would support all of Israel's actions. And isn't it wonderful to see you talk of homes being pillaged and bodies desecrated. I'll take a leaf out of your book and speak of the many horrors perpetrated by Irgun, Stern et al.

17 ) gabi / australia
18/01/2013 08:21
# 13 - I did as you suggested. Had read about this before, and the lead up to it, aftermath etc. But googled it and came upon some very interesting facts. No-one (try as they might) could say any bodies were mutilated or women raped. And then there were many Jews saved by Arabs or did not that come to your attention. Then you are led to the number of Jewish then Israeli massacres of Arabs - very numerous and vicious. So stop your BS and only talk about facts, if you understand what a fact is.

18 ) gabi / australia
18/01/2013 08:29
# 12 - have you read Arthur Koestler's book, "The 13th Tribe"? And if this theory has been so debunked why is it that there is so much controversy even in Israel about the issue. Writing about the "genetic origin of the Jewish people" does doesn't answer the question. The point is that some Jews have a different genetic origin from others who call themselves Jewish. Anyone for DNA?

19 ) Abdul-Rahman / Canaan
25/01/2013 23:48
The blithering Zionist hasbara propagandist fascist "robert" seems to not realize or be willing to admit that the clown Ostrer (who has previously been exposed as an untrustworthy Zionist ideologue by scholar Katya Gibel Azoulay in her article "Not An Innocent Pursuit" exposing Zionists like Ostrer of the Talmudist yeshiva "university" LOL!) has been completely exposed and refuted by Dr. Eran Elhaik. AFP "Gene study settles debate over origin of European Jews" It is settled Jews are KHAZARS, AFP

20 ) Abdul-Rahman / Canaan
25/01/2013 23:51
Even the Zionist websited "failedmessiah" has admitted in their article (before the decisive AFP article dated to January 16, 2013) "New Study Shows YU Researcher, Others Appear To Have Cooked The Genetic Books To ‘Prove' Middle Eastern Origin Of The Jewish People When One May Not Really Exist" (again that is from the secularist Zionist website "failedmessiah" lol). And as for 1929, Palestinians protected Jews and the British Zionist backers killed over 100 Palestinians in the incident.

21 ) Abdul-Rahman / Canaan
26/01/2013 00:15
"There were the 1929 Wailing Wall/Buraq Wall demonstrations against the domination of the site by Jews who were backed by the British Mandate that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and Jews; the 1935 armed uprising spearheaded by Izz al-Din Qassam against British soldiers; the six-month trade strike against the British Mandate and Jewish colonialists the following year; and the subsequent three-year uprising brutally crushed by the British."

22 ) Abdul-Rahman / Canaan
26/01/2013 00:18
And lastly the descendants of Jews from the events in 1929 completely reject the modern racist genocidal fascist illegal Zionist settlers in Al-Khalil who even they say falsely try to misuse the complex events of 1929 and these Jews themselves reject the criminals like goldstein and his evil massacre and call for all the illegal Zionist settlers to leave Al-Khalil immediately. "The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses" Dr. Elhaik!
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