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Israel deserves better than settlement building in revenge for terror

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itamar

Jewish youth hold Israeli flags at the beginning of a rally march in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus.. (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)

The murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach is a tragedy. It is also a stark reminder that in 2018, nearly 70 years after the Jewish state was established, there are still many out there who refuse to come to terms with our existence.

But it is not a reason to suddenly build in West Bank settlements; it is not a reason to suddenly approve the zoning plans for what until now has been defined as an illegal outpost; and it is not a reason to suddenly connect that outpost to the national electrical grid.

These are all steps that are legitimate, but they should be done because they are the right thing to do for Israel, not because of some desire for vengeance.

Too often after terrorist attacks, politicians start pressuring the prime minister to approve thousands of housing units in Judea and Samaria.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, for example, declared on Wednesday that the “only revenge is to keep building.” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that the murder of Shevach is justification to recognize Havat Gilad, the rabbi’s home, as a legal settlement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israel Electric Corporation to connect the outpost to the electrical grid.

All of these may be welcome steps, but the grounds for them are not. Israel should not set its settlement policy based on a terrorist attack and the tragic outcome. It should decide what it wants based on what is in the country’s best interest.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for tweeting the truth about Havat Gilad terror shooting and the Palestinian’s funding of terrorists, January 10, 2018

Shevach’s murder is an opportunity to mourn and to ensure that security measures are put in place to prevent attacks against Israelis no matter where they live – within the Green Line or beyond. But is it not a reason to suddenly go on a building spree. That is a decision that needs to be made by the government on its own merits: Is it strategically the right move for Israel or not?

If Netanyahu were to decide – as his Likud Party did last week – to annex West Bank settlements, he would be able to pass such a resolution in the Knesset with his existing coalition. If he were to decide to move forward with a two-state solution, he would likely be able to form a coalition to support that as well.

So why doesn’t the government decide one way or another? The answer is sad but simple: It prefers not to. Making a decision one way or the other – annexing settlements or advancing a two-state solution as Netanyahu has declared in the past he supports – would carry with it a political price that no one seems ready to pay.

Annexation of settlements means a crisis with Europe and possibly the United States. Moving forward with a two-state solution entails security risks and a political shakeup within the coalition. So why bother with either one when the status quo can continue?

The answer, in my opinion, is also simple: Zionism is about the Jewish right to self-determination in the Land of Israel. We have a state that has succeeded beyond what anyone could have imagined 70 years ago.

The process of self-determination, though, is not yet complete. Tough decisions are needed, and they shouldn’t be made based on a terrorist attack, no matter how tragic it might be.

Israelis deserve better.

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