Ariel is the largest town that is deep inside Samaria, smack in the middle of the northern part of what has been called the West Bank for the past few decades. Mrs. Elder and I had the opportunity to visit Ariel University last year.
Ariel's mayor, Eli Shaviro, is in the United States and I caught up with him. I asked him his opinion of what President Trump had said on Wednesday, and he said that he was happy that Trump was no longer committed to a two-state solution.
I asked him what his alternative was.
"I'd say today that the two state plan is not feasible. I believe that we have to take broad the common denominators (between the peoples); an example would be the economy, or health care. From our level, not the national/government level but the local level, these are things that we can create and move things in a positive direction.
"You can look at the Palestinians working in Ariel or in the Barkan Industrial park. In partnership with Ariel University we are building a large medical facility that will serve both Israelis and Palestinians. These are the things that both sides need, both us and the Palestinians.
"Once our neighbors begin to receive these services and benefits of neighbors working together, they will get to know us, and once they get to know us things can move in further positive directions."
"If you speak with a Palestinian and ask him if he would rather work in the Ariel Industrial Park, of course he would. But beyond there is a Palestinian Authority that is trying to prevent him from working there.
"That's why if you ask which way things are going, the change will happen from the bottom up and not from the top down.
"I agree we have to think about the future. But for now, it would be unwise to project the end-game, rather we need to work step-by-step towards a solution."
Shaviro is putting his money where his mouth is. Even before the major medical center opens in Ariel, he is building a clinic specifically for the Arab population in the area. He says that the Ariel industrial zone employs highly skilled Arab workers and managers, most who come from Nablus, who are treated absolutely equally with the Jews who work there.
Shaviro is not a religious man, so I asked him what his ideological reason was for wanting to live in a "settlement." He pointed out that most of Ariel is not religious, and neither is the university. "But it is impossible to overlook our past. Judea and Samaria are the land of the Jewish Bible. To one side of Ariel is the tomb of Joshua, to the east of Ariel is Shilo, the original capital of Israel. You cannot ignore that."