Another side of the debate

David Ha'ivri, a spokesperson for Israel's Shomron Regional Council, addresses an audience in Melbourne on October 25. Photo: Ben Weinstein

David Ha'ivri, a spokesperson for Israel's Shomron Regional Council, addresses an audience in Melbourne on October 25. Photo: Ben Weinstein

NAOMI LEVIN

SHOMRON spokesperson David Ha’ivri told a Melbourne audience that if Palestinians are not loyal to the State of Israel they should leave.

Speaking from a personal point of view, Ha’ivri, who lives in a West Bank settlement, said he believes in a 22-state solution — that Palestinians could and should live in any of the other Arab states, rather than Israel.

“Non-Jews who are willing to be loyal to the State of Israel … can live in Israel. But if they intend to be disloyal to the country, then they need to find other places to live and there are plenty [of those],” he said.

Ha’ivri was in Australia as a guest of Australian Friends of Gush Katif and the Shomron — a small organisation that encourages Jewish people to settle across the biblical land of Israel, and which strongly opposed the disengagement from Gaza.

During Ha’ivri’s visit, he met community leaders, journalists and Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby. He was supposed to address students at The University of Melbourne, but the talk was cancelled because of security issues.

He spoke to about 80 people on October 25 about his community in the Shomron region — an area on the West Bank, north of Jerusalem.

Ha’ivri called the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza “ethnic cleansing” — “Jews were thrown out of their homes because they were Jews” — and said it was a futile exercise, never to be repeated on the West Bank.

“If we search for gains of disengagement, of ethnic cleansing … the only advantage that we can possibly think of is that now we can learn from our mistakes.”

He briefly examined history to explain that in his opinion, the Jewish people have first claim on the region.

“What is the West Bank? Open up books of history. Look up the term ‘West Bank’.”

He continued: “Open up the books of Palestinian history, who was the first Palestinian king … there was no Palestinian people.

“Up until 1964, the Arabs in our region considered themselves Arabs, not Palestinians … All of this terminology is a political agenda.”

Nonetheless, Ha’ivri offered no real solutions for peace. Instead, he chose to repeat the mantra that “the two-state solution is not a solution” without going into any detail.