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For Feiglin, however, party history means nothing when considered against God’s will and the Bible, as he understands them. To Feiglin, Netanyahu lacks the political will that comes from such convictions. The prime minister “could not get the train of Oslo to turn back…. He’s still on that train.” Switching transport metaphors, he describes Netanyahu as “a great pilot, flying nowhere.”
“When was the last time you heard a prime minister or even ambassador in London or New York saying these simple words: ‘This is our land’” he asked.
These are the words that propelled Feiglin, now 51, into politics. In 1994 he founded Zo Artzeinu (This is our land), a protest movement opposed to the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians. In the course of his anti-Oslo activism, he was arrested frequently for civil disobedience and indicted for sedition against the state. He was convicted and sentenced to 16 months in jail. This was commuted to six months of community service, which he spent helping in a retirement home.
In 1996, Zo Artzeinu evolved into the Manhigut Yehudit, which Feiglin led into the Likud party four years later. He saw this faction as his launching base for ultimately dominating the party. Feiglin led the campaign within the Likud against the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. Prior to his campaign for party leadership in February, he ran for Likud leadership in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Feiglin claims that it is not too late for Israel to change tack and take the approach it should have taken in 1967.
“The world would have cheered” had Israel asserted biblically ordained rights over the West Bank and Gaza and annexed the territories upon capturing them then, after the Six Day War, he claimed. The fact that international opinion took a different turn is Israel’s own fault. “You cannot complain to the world if you yourself don’t have the belief in what you are doing here, not only in Judea and Samaria, but also in Tel Aviv.”
If he ever gets to lead Likud and the country, Feiglin says, he will annex the West Bank and Gaza and give Palestinians residency but not citizenship. In his vision, this would bring about a unilaterally imposed peace. Feiglin has even thought about what he would do with the money saved by this resolution of the conflict.
“With the money that Israel throws [at] building bomb shelters around the Gaza Strip, on building fences, missiles against missiles, [it could be] investing that money on helping these people,” Feiglin said, referring to the Palestinians. They are, he claimed, “itching to emigrate” and would do so if given a grant.
“Over 10 years, half a million dollars could be invested in each Arab family in Judea and Samaria to help them find their future where most of them wish,” he said.
Contact Nathan Jeffay at firstname.lastname@example.org