Following a tour on Wednesday of Jewish-owned agricultural sites in Samaria’s Binyamin region, Israeli Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter applauded farmers’ role in protecting state lands in Judea and Samaria.
“We came here to learn up close about the farms, which I view as the best guardians of Israeli state land in Area C,” the minister said, referring to one of the administrative zones established under the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.
Dichter continued: “There are no better guardians than hundreds of sheep, tended by an Israeli shepherd, of course. … All the government ministries are aware of the significant advantages of such farms, and they should be encouraged and enlarged in an orderly fashion, as is being done here in Binyamin.”
“In Hebrew, we say ‘shelanu‘ [‘ours’]; it [Area C] is Israeli according to the [Oslo] agreement. Nevertheless, we can see that the Palestinian Authority, led by the prime minister [Mohammed Shtayyeh], is trying to get deeper and deeper into Area C,” he warned.
Dichter was joined by Agriculture Ministry Director General Oren Lavi, Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz and other Israeli officials. The tour included visits to farms in Geva Binyamin (also known as Adam), Kochav Hashachar and Givat Harel.
Dichter and Ganz discussed several strategic issues related to agriculture in Judea and Samaria, including a new program for allocating farmland, plans for a water reservoir at Amichai near Shiloh, and a program to develop rural areas in the Binyamin region.
In related news, Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu on Wednesday called on the government to extend Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria. “This is our homeland. This is where the Jewish people arose,” he stated, calling the 1967 armistice line “a fiction.”
“We should advance this as quickly as possible, as smartly as possible,” said Eliyahu. “In Judea and Samaria, everyone understands that our roots and history are there, and therefore, I think that the entire Green Line is just an abnormality. There is a distorted reality that we need to erase.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Sovereignty Movement, which advocates for Israeli control over Judea and Samaria, wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him to refrain from using the sovereignty issue as a “bargaining chip” in normalization talks with Saudi Arabia.
U.S. President Joe Biden said last week that a normalization agreement between Jerusalem and Riyadh could be coming. “There’s a rapprochement maybe under way,” Biden told 2024 reelection campaign contributors at an event in Freeport, Maine.
However, according to Israel Hayom, Israel would have to offer to put off extending sovereignty for at least four more years, similar to the conditions of the 2020 Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
“While an agreement with Saudi Arabia carries immense significance in economic, regional, security and other terms, and perhaps also in the creation of the Middle East coalition against the Iranian threat,” the Sovereignty Movement said, “it is crucial to ensure that such a political move does not come at the expense of our cherished vision of sovereignty and its application in the heart of the Land of Israel.
“Using sovereignty for political leverage strips from the Jewish people its soul, inner strength and the justice of its cause. … We call upon you and your government: Do not harm sovereignty; apply and implement it!” the letter read.