State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, making a rare foray by an American official into disputed Mideast territory, called “incredible” his visit Wednesday to the West Bank community of Beitar Ilit. McCall, who was on a three-day visit sponsored by State of Israel Bonds. spent the morning at the settlement of 17,000, which is about a 35-minute drive from Jerusalem.
“In America, you get the impression that these settlements are tents and shacks,” McCall said in a phone interview from Jerusalem’s Old City Wednesday. “But this is a city, people with a real sense of community. This is where they want to live and bring up their children.”
McCall, a Democratic candidate for governor, was accompanied by Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Several New York officials have visited Israel recently, but the only prior visit to the West Bank was made by Peter Vallone, who was City Council speaker and a candidate for mayor when he dropped in on the Jewish community of Hebron last year.
McCall declined to offer his view of whether the settlements should be dismantled as part of a peace agreement. “That’s a political question,” he said. “But these people are determined to stay. I don’t know how you uproot them.”