JERUSALEM (JTA) — “There will be no more uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at an event marking 50 years of Jewish settlements on occupied land.
Thousands attended the controversial event held Wednesday night in a field outside of Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion. In addition to speeches, the event featured music, dancers and fireworks. The program was the first state-funded event held in the West Bank, according to the YESHA Council, which advocates for settlements.
“We have brought about magnificent settlement in Judea and Samaria that we are maintaining and strengthening – responsibly, wisely and persistently. Settlement is important to you my friends. It is no less important to me and therefore, I tell you clearly and before anything: There will be no more uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel! It is not just a question of links to the homeland, though it is certainly that, but first of all, that is not the way to make peace. We will uproot neither Jews nor Arabs,” Netanyahu said.
Many officials boycotted the ceremony including left-wing politicians and ambassadors to Israel from several countries. The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, did not attend.
The president of Israel’s Supreme Court, Miriam Naor, ordered justices to not attend the ceremony, citing its political nature.