This weekend the “price tag” policy of extremist settlers got well and truly out of hand. Price tag is an attempt to demonstrate to law enforcement bodies that any action which interferes with settler interests will result in vandalism on highways and in Palestinian villages — and sometimes also harm to individual Palestinians.
On Friday the mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf was vandalized and burned, apparently in reaction to the settlement freeze. A graffiti message read: “Price tag — greetings from Effi.” See articles about the attack here, here and here.
There has been a mass of reaction. There has been condemnation from various places, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres. Politicians have spoken of how they fear it could lead to an escalation in violence. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called it a “despicable crime.”
In settler and pro-settler circles the response has mostly been swift. The settler representative body, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, aka the Yesha Council condemned the attack. Lawmaker Uri Orbach of the religious-Zionist Jewish Home party, penned an impassioned article condemning the attack and saying it is the wrong way for settlers to oppose the settlement freeze. He wrote: Will the bad fire end the freeze or deepen it?
But not everyone was so quick to condemn this action. Michael Ben-Ari, lawmaker for the far-right National Union party refused to do so.