Netanyahu: 'Hamastan' in West Bank must be prevented
By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL
Any West Bank land that Israel fails to settle is land made available for another "Hamastan," said Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday during a tour of Judea and Samaria.
"Any areas we evacuate now will be taken over by Hamas, which is simply a tool of Iran. The only reason this is not also Hamastan, like the Gaza Strip has become, is because the IDF is here," said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, who will likely be reelected Likud chairman next month, displayed his commitment to settler expansion by then planting a sapling in the unauthorized outpost of Kida, near Shiloh.
"I wish I could plant more than this tree, but that will have to wait," said Netanyahu, as he bent down to tuck earth around the sapling.
Congratulating the young farmers on being true capitalists, in addition to settlers, Netanyahu said that he was reminded of the "early pioneering spirit of Israel."
"I would like to see the maximum possible development, and the maximum possible area kept in any future peace deal," said Netanyahu.
"The current government seems to have give up on much of the territory before they have even begun negotiations."
Netanyahu's decision to visit an illegal outpost was highly controversial, and members of his staff considered canceling the appearance hours before. Likud activists from within the settler movement insisted that he visit the outpost, claiming that it would set the tone for his eventual campaign as prime minister.
"The Likud has received much support from the people here and, God willing, Bibi [Netanyahu] will be elected as the next prime minister with the help of the settlers," said Pinhas Wallerstein, a West Bank settler leader.
Netanyahu's campaign for the premiership appeared to have already begun Wednesday as he announced that under his control, broad economic incentives and state-sponsored businesses would increase in the West Bank.
"The potential in the West Bank is enormous," said Netanyahu. "When you are sitting in the prime minister's office the pressure of the whole world is on you. I have the power to ease that pressure and to make the settlements blossom."
Certain settlements, including Eli and Hebron, must be expanded and given the complete support of the state, he said.
"These areas, like the Jewish settlement Hebron, go back to our people's history," said Netanyahu. "They go back to the essence of Zionism."
Netanyahu also promised to advance a plan to build more Jewish-only roads to link the settlements with Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, affording settlers more business opportunities.
Likud leadership candidates Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon both criticized Netanyahu's visit to Judea and Samaria.
Danon called on the Yesha Council to boycott the visit, pointing out that during Netanyahu's term as prime minister he had often disappointed the settlers.