The Council was established in the 1970s. Gush Emunim, its predecessor organization was set up to promote Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it was regarded as the return of Jews to their Biblical homeland. The Council has twenty five mayors democratically elected and ten community leaders who represent municipalities with a total Jewish population of about 225,000. The Councils resettlements policy was a subject of criticism by the Sasson Report. Its mandate is to provide assistance to Jewish settlements in all the possible ways. The Council strives for the betterment of security by, for instance, making arrangements for acquiring bullet-proof ambulances and buses. It has also joined forces with the Israeli government to provide roads, electricity, and water to the settlements. Additionally, the Council acts as a political arm of the Jewish people residing in Yesha. It also campaigns with the Knesset and the government for the interests of Yesha residents. The Council continues to campaign the public relations for the settlements and has arranged many large public protests.
The Council conducted the protest campaign in 2005 against the disengagement plan facilitating peaceful mass protests constituting human circle of 130,000, with Kfar Maimon advancing with 50,000 population, including both Kotel and Tel Aviv rallies of 70,000 and 200,000 people respectively. The centrists praised the council for refraining from violence even though the right-wing activists resorted to violence. The right also criticized the council for its failure in preventing the disengagement.
The Council chairman Dani Dayan renounced any sort of violence by the settlers in order to advance their means. He declared such actions “morally bankrupt” and called it a hindrance in the way of settler’s struggle.
According to a report received on August 3, 2010, Yesha Council in assistance with My Israel was a part of an organization consisting of selected individuals in a workshop situated in Jerusalem. The aim of this workshop was to teach the people methods of editing Wikipedia articles in an Israeli supportive way. My Israel is an online network of Israel supporting activists dedicated to the online expansion of Zionism. About 50 individuals were part of the course. The director of Yesha Council, Naftali Bennet commented, “We don't want to change Wikipedia or convert it into a propaganda arm. Our only aim is to show the other side. People presume that Israelis are mean, evil people with an only objective to cause harm to Arabs all day”. In another interview, Bennet refused any attempt to make Wikipedia a rightist wing instead he pressed the notion of including the Israeli perspective in the articles. Ayelet Shaked, the project organizer, emphasized in an interview the reliability and conformity of information with Wikipedia rules. She provided some citations, for instance, like the use of word “occupation” in Wikipedia entries and in the editing of entries that connects Israel with Judea and Samaria and history of Jews. A course participant denies the statement, stating that the, “course is not a Zionist conspiracy to supersede Wikipedia, rather, the course attempts to achieve balance in providing information on disputed issues appeared in the online encyclopedia. The workshop was formed to provide training to a number of pro-Israelis to learn to edit Wikipedia so that more individuals could present Israeli outlook of things thus balancing the content. Wikipedia is meant to be an information provider with fairness and balance and it does that by having individuals across the globe contributing to the content. Another participant was not of the view about publicizing the initiative, warning that the publication in past events has had negative effect, and recommending that the underground initiative would be better. The head of Palestinian Journalists Syndicate responded following the course announcement, stated the plans underway in order to set up a counter group to make sure the Palestinian outlook is broadcasted online declaring the coming regional war would actually be the media war. In 2011, Jimmy Wales, co-founded of Wikipedia, reflecting on the course organized by Israel Sheli, stated that the announcement of this course hardly had any impact. He chose to remain neutral on the subject of articles editing related to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During a speech at Tel Aviv University while accepting his Dan David Prize in May 2015, Wales emphasized to avoid conflicts of interest is to dispose of as many facts as possible while maintaining neutrality, aiming to overcome any chance of biasness and permeating political ideology. Wales also stressed that editors are in charge of presenting all sides of article and ultimately leave it to the readers’ personal judgements to have their own opinions about the conflict.
Selected pictures of Israel west bank and Judea and Samaria
© Yesha Israel | Municipal councils for Jewish settlers in West Bank