Settler leaders were furious Tuesday morning after learning of the agreement to freeze building starts in the territories, including in the settlement blocs and east Jerusalem, as reported by Ynet.
"If the prime minister implements the policy of (Opposition Chairwoman) Tzipi Livni,
(former Defense Minister) Amir Peretz and Talia Sasson (author of government report on illegal outposts) – this government's days are numbered," warned Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman.
Ynet learned that according to the agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
and Housing Minister Ariel Atias, the construction freeze will continue until the beginning of 2010, according to one source.
Atias of Shas,
who is acting against the position of his party's chairman, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, defined the move as the "waiting policy," and suggested presenting it to special US envoy George Mitchell, in order to prove Israel's willingness to advance the peace process. Atias believes there is no reason to anger the Americans at this time.
Minister Yishai and fellow ministers Moshe Ya'alon, Daniel Hershkowitz and Yuli Edelstein toured West Bank outposts
on Monday. Yishai stated that the tour was not to illegal outposts but "to legal settlements built by the governments of Israel."
Ministers' visit to Homesh (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
According to the Ariel mayor, "It is inconceivable that four ministers visited Judea and Samaria – and not the settlement blocs, but those communities defined by the left-wing and legal elements as 'unauthorized outposts,' when in fact these are legal communities established by the government – and at the same time the housing minister decides to freeze a plan to issue bids and turns all of the settlement blocs into unauthorized outposts.
"This makes no sense at all," Nachman added.
The "waiting policy" is expected to help the prime minister during his short visit to Europe next Monday, where he will meet with envoy Mitchell. The two are expected to discuss the construction freeze in the West Bank, with Defense Minister Barak calling for a three to six-month halt, while Mitchell demands more than a year.
Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika told Ynet, "The truth has been exposed. Slowly but clearly, the real face of those persecuting the settlement is revealed. The superiority of the rule of law is at its peak, but in practice they are motivated only by small politics.
"Those attempting to harm the outposts and construction with weak excuses of rule of law, are now being exposed in their nakedness abandoning all the construction in Judea and Samaria and even in Jerusalem. It has been proven that those who act against the outposts are really aiming to hurt Jerusalem. We shall not accept this distorted situation."
The Yesha Council also called on ministers and Knesset members to act immediately to thwart "the dangerous move" of freezing construction bids.
"This is a dangerous move by the prime minister, defense minister and housing minister – in complete disregard of the Israeli voter's decision and the prime minister's explicit commitments before the elections. This is a capitulation to everything the American administration has been dictating."
The Binyamin Settlers Committee said in a statement, "It’s disappointing to discover that once again we elected Netanyahu and got the old Bibi – the one who talks passionately about the rock of our existence, but capitulates with panic in the face of any American pressure."