“The significance of this place can not be underestimated,” Hillel said. “Here the Bible played out. Here everything began.”

Settlement of Elon Moreh, near Nablus, West Bank, June 11, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Settlement of Elon Moreh, near Nablus, West Bank, June 11, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Eliav Hillel still carries the emotional scars of the 1982 evacuation of the Yamit settlement in Sinai where he lived with his wife and small child.

The fear that he would once more be forced to leave his house has never left him.

The nation “has yet to heal from evacuations that lead nowhere,” he said.

So Hillel, a winemaker by trade, who both lives and works in the Elon Moreh settlement in Samaria, has followed carefully the details of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

“I can see where things are going and I fear they will not end well,” Hillel said as he sat on a folding chair in the boutique Kabir Winery. Behind him, on the wall, hung multiple certificates of excellence, and in front of him, behind a glass wall, are rows of large wooden wine barrels.

First created in 1979, the small community of some 2,000 settlers overlooks Nablus, whose apartment buildings dot the landscape in the valley below.

When Hillel and his family arrived in 1982, there were only 50 families. His strong attachment to the land and to Jewish settlement in the Samaria region begins with the Bible.

“This is a religious matter,” he said. It is harder to get closer to biblical history than Elon Moreh, where God promised Abraham that he would give the Land of Israel to his descendants.
Generations later, the Israelites entered the Land of Israel and headed toward Elon Moreh for the blessing and the curse after crossing over the Jordan River.

“The significance of this place cannot be underestimated,” Hillel said. “It can be compared in importance to the Temple Mount. Here the Bible played out. Here everything began,” Hillel said.

But the community’s 22-km. distance from the pre-1967 lines and its close proximity to Nablus place it in a difficult portion geopolitically when it comes to the Trump peace plan.

It is one of 15 settlements that according to the sovereignty plan will be placed in an isolated enclave, with only one road out, leading in the direction of the Jordan Valley.

Opponents of the plan fear this choke hold will strangle life in the community and force a quiet evacuation, by which residents would leave of their own free will as life becomes increasingly intolerable.

Hillel doesn’t speculate if this is true. He is certain of it.
“If we give up on this area, we have given up on the Temple Mount. Therefore I am very worried,” Hillel said.

He doesn’t even believe the Trump plan will lead to the annexation of all the settlements.

“The application of sovereignty is a lie,” said Hillel, who is so pessimistic about the future impact of the Trump plan that he thinks none of its positive elements will occur, only the negative ones.

“First we will be enclaves and then we will be evacuated,” he said.

All past diplomatic initiatives are bad, he said, but the real issue is the state of the nation, not Trump.

The US president “can’t be more Zionist than we are,” said Hillel, who explained that Trump had based his sovereignty map on information from Israel.

“The Israelis [are] leading him in a certain direction,” he said.

There are elements of the plan that are reminiscent of one drawn up by former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, he said.

“This isn’t a new plan. It is one that has been in the drawer for years. The final intention is to force us to leave,” he said.

Outside, as he spoke, preparations were underway for an outdoor wedding, on the grounds of the winery. Hillel became a winemaker after spending 30 years in hi-tech. Initially he was self-taught, producing wine in his home, after which he studied in Ariel and then helped open up the Kabir Winery. It has 7 hectares (17 acres) of vineyards and a small events hall. It caters mostly to Israelis and tourists, including Evangelicals.

Hillel, a soft spoken gray-bearded man, said experience has shown that plans like those of Trump are never positive. “The more of these plans we engage with, the more peace becomes elusive,” he said.

Prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords, he said, he used to go shopping in Gaza and Nablus, which he referred to by its biblical name of Shechem. Now that could never happen, he explained.

“So I hope the Trump plan will never come to fruition,” he said. But if it does, “I will do everything I can to remain here.”

As reported by The Jerusalem Post