There are a host of issues facing the next Israeli government, from Middle East conflicts and terrorism to the economy. With elections just a week away, now is the time to discuss the challenges in depth. The Mideast Update spoke with Jeremy Gimpel, a Knesset candidate from The Jewish Home party—or Habayit Hayehudi—to learn more about what his party wants to accomplish in the upcoming Knesset [Israeli parliament]. Here’s part two of excerpts from the interview:
The Mideast Update: Do you feel like you can also use the economy to try and build up cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Judea and Samaria [the Biblical name for the West Bank], and maybe set the stage for better things in the future?
Jeremy Gimpel: Well here’s an interesting fact: In 2012, last year, there was not a single Israeli, not a civilian, not a soldier, that was killed in Judea and Samaria. And we look at the disaster of Gaza, and we saw there was the [Turkish] flotilla and there was [Operation] Cast Lead and now there was [Operation] Pillar of Defense, and Gaza has turned into this impossible situation.
It’s specifically where the Jewish people held on to the Land of Israel and the State of Israel held on to Judea and Samaria, there’s relative quiet. There weren’t any [major] terror attacks [in 2012], there wasn’t some international bonanza like the flotilla. And so we see that there really are other options other than retreating and giving up. Which in turn, of course, obviously only strengthens the terrorism on the other side.
The Mideast Update: Earlier you mentioned the Likud party [led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], how do you see yourselves as different as a party on the right from Likud or Yisrael Beiteinu [the party running with Likud on a joint ticket] and at the same time do you feel like you could work with Likud in a joint [coalition] government?
Jeremy Gimpel: Well, Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a two-state solution as has the [joint ticket’s] number two now, [former-Foreign Minister] Avigdor Lieberman. Now there are forces within both of those parties—the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu have now merged—that oppose the two-state solution inside the Land of Israel. And so our goal is to work alongside the Likud and the whole Israel Nationalist community to make sure that it stays on the path of the party platform that it represents and to not let it steer to the [political] Left.
Very often, Benjamin Netanyahu likes to sort of break to the Left and he’ll bring in a Left-wing Defense Minister like Ehud Barak or he’ll freeze building in Jerusalem for nine months to appease [US] President [Barack] Obama and Western pressure, or he’ll freeze construction in Judea and Samaria, and our goal is to make sure as a partner inside the coalition, alongside the Likud, to sort of steer him more to the Right, to steer him more toward the values that we represent.
The Mideast Update: And just on a more broad level, what are some of the goals that you guys would have in the next government? Are there some things that you want to accomplish? Obviously we’ve talked about the Palestinian state, you don’t want that to happen, but what are some things you want to do?
Jeremy Gimpel: So I think that the focus on the internal level, is—Israel is a wonderful country, but the prices here in this country are astronomically high. Housing prices are high, food prices are high, car prices are high, gas prices are high, water prices are high. Just the prices here are extremely high.
And I think one of the focuses of the Bayit Yehudi [Jewish Home] internally is to lower prices on all fronts. You know, there are a lot of unions in Israel, and we’re not connected to any unions, we’re not connected to any banks or any tycoons or any powerful families here in Israel.
…20 families inside Israel own or control 80 percent of the Israeli economy. There are 20 families who are so powerful in such a little country, that it creates an imbalance in the economy, it creates an imbalance in the free market. And so I’m going to be there to fight those concentrations of power, and to open up the market to more competition, to lower prices.
And I think on an international level, to change the posture that Israel has taken in the last few years. Instead of being reactive, defensive and apologetic, to stand up proudly and say the truth to the world—that we have one land and one country and it’s the size of New Jersey, and stop trying to take it away from us.
And we will not commit national suicide to appease President Obama or to appease the European Union or to appease anyone. We have the right to live as a free people in our land, and it’s time that we say it loud and clear.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 15, 2012)