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Bennett: Jewish settlers in West Bank 'serve as a protective wall for all of us'

HERZLIYA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 23: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - ISRAELI GOVERNMENT PRESS OFFICE (GPO) / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a panel organised by Reichman University in Herzliya, Israel on November 23, 2021. ( Israeli Government Press Office - Anadolu Agency )
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on 23 November 2021 [Israeli Government Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett refused to highlight the violence of illegal Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank because "[they] serve as a protective wall for all of us." He made his comments in response to a discussion between Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev and US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland about the violence.

"Settlers in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank] have suffered daily from violence and terrorism for decades," wrote Bennett on Twitter. "They serve as a protective wall for all of us and we must protect them in word and deed."

Bar-Lev also took to Twitter to say that Nuland "took an interest in, among other things, settler violence and how to lower regional tensions and strengthen the Palestinian Authority." He apparently told the US official that issuing more work permits to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza was "the key to lower tensions, just like implementing a plan for a joint industrial zone on the outskirts of Gaza and more." American help for projects of this kind could help a lot, he added.

READ: Israel officials co-ordinated with Jewish ultra-nationalists to crackdown on Palestinian protesters, HRW says

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked challenged Bar-Lev. "You're confused," wrote the far-right extremist. "The settlers are the salt of the earth. What should shock us are the daily incidents in which stones and Molotov cocktails are thrown at Jews – just because they are Jews – with the assistance of the PA. I suggest that you talk about this violence with Madame Nuland."

Several other Israeli right wingers, including ministers and MKs have attacked Bar-Lev just for recognising that settler violence in the occupied West Bank should be stopped.

"I understand that it is really difficult for some of you to put a mirror in front of his face and see that extremist settler violence is crossing the whole world and foreign governments are interested in the issue," responded Bar-Lev. "I recommend those who have difficulty to drink a glass of water. I will continue to fight Palestinian terrorism as if there is no extremist settler violence, and fight extremist settler violence as if there is no Palestinian terrorism."

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