Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the “iron principle that guides” him, based on lessons learned in the past, demands the continued capability of the state of Israel and its peoples to defend itself by means of its own competence. During a tour of the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, Netanyahu underscored that this principle is implemented in practice against all threats by saying: “The iron principle that has guided me regarding what we have experienced in our history and what we experienced in the Holocaust when we were as a driven leaf and could not defend ourselves and they slaughtered us in an awful manner, is that we must be capable of defending ourselves by ourselves against any threat. This principle continues to guide us in actual practice.” The Israeli leader further noted that while diplomatic alliances complement the ability of the Jewish state to defend itself, the state of Israel was founded in the Bible, and that only through the ability to wield the “sword of David” the eternity of Israel is ensured.” In Netanyahu’s words, “The diplomatic alliances are helpful and complement our abilities, but they are no substitute for the ability to defend ourselves by ourselves. I believe in the book of books (Bible) and I read it as a call to action that every generation must do what it can to ensure the eternity of Israel. I know that without the ability to wield the sword of David we would not be here; therefore, we do what needs to be done in order to ensure that we will be here.” The Prime Minister visited Gush Etzion’s Netiv ha-Avot neighborhood, after he directed Jerusalem to allocate tens of millions of shekels for the construction of a permanent neighborhood for its residents – in a decision that came in response to a series of Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. Prior to leaving the area, Netanyahu visited a centuries-old Lone Oak Tree, that according to the Israeli leader “symbolizes settlement, the redemption of the land of Israel, at the heart of the land of Israel. Its roots are deep. It sends branches toward the heavens. This is the people of Israel. Nobody will uproot us from here. This tree – is for eternity.” It is important to note that in contrast to other Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Gush Etzion settlements bloc existed prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. While four of the settlements were founded in the early 1940’s, on lands purchased in the 1920’s, those communities were destroyed during Israel’s Independence war of 1948, when the Jordanian Arab legion sought to conquer those territories. After Israel reasserted its control of the area in 1967, following the six-Day war, the four destroyed settlements were rebuilt, along with sixteen other settlements that comprise some 70,000 Israeli residents, to date.