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Yesha Council: West Bank construction freeze illegitimate

Construction beyond Green Line continues despite government's decision to enforce 10-month freeze. 'If we don't build now, permits will be put on hold or lost,' say right-wing sources

Efrat Weiss
Published: 11.26.09, 19:00 / Israel News

Yesha Council heads announced Thursday that they see the government's decision to halt construction in the settlements as illegitimate and will "continue to build with or without the government."

  

"Freezing the construction is an immoral, non-Jewish and anti-Semitic step. This step promotes the dangerous establishment of a Palestinian state, which constitutes an existential threat to the State of Israel," read a statement on behalf of the Council.

 

Earlier it was reported that despite the government's decision to freeze construction in the settlements for the next 10 months, dozens of projects are still at full swing, with plans to build hundreds of housing units in dozens of settlements all throughout the West Bank.

 

The said projects were approved by past governments and are separate from the 492 housing units that were approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak last summer.

 

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Sources at the Yesha Council claim that the execution of these projects is based on old permits or is done on private property that does not require governmental consent. "If we don't hurry up and build now, the permits will be put on hold and will be lost," one of the sources said.

 

"The biggest absurdity is that part of the 492 units that were approved recently were already approved during (former PM Ehud) Olmert's term," said Yesha Council spokesman Yishai Hollander.

 

An expert on construction in the West Bank told Ynet that "the amount and dispersal of new construction projects in recent months indicate that there is no enforcement of a solidified freezing plan. In this situation, the result is the opposite, and the settlers have heightened motivation to start building."


Construction in Eli Settelment

 

The current projects are either being constructed in settlement blocks, or in isolated settlements. Some of the projects include: Beitar Ilit, Elazar in Gush Etzion (80 housing units), Beit Arie (over 100 units), Kiryat Arba, Rosh Zurim, Neria, Givat Habrecha, Na'ale, Nili, Alon (dozens of units), Maale Machmesh (18 units), Shilo (10 units), Eli (10 units), Bracha (15 units), Yitzhar (10 units), Carmel (10 units), Ma'on (10 units), Tekoa (dozens of units) and Nokdim (10 units).


Construction in Beitar Illit

 

In addition, of the building permits approved in the past summer, construction has been taking place in Har Gilo (149 units), Alon Shvut (12 units), Modi'in Ilit (84 units), Givaat Ze'ev vicinity (76 units), Keidar (25 units), Maskiot (20 units) and 89 units in Maale Adumim. In addition, the Defense Minister approved the construction of a sports park in Ariel, and a new school in Har Adar.

 

Right-wing sources claim all the above projects received proper permits from Israeli governments of the past, while left-wing activists argue that only some of the projects received such approval.

 

However, both sides of the political map agree that the pace of construction has slowed down in comparison to the pace during Olmert's government, when thousands of housing units were built.

 

Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer said in response that "By employing the 'grab all you can' method, settlers force us to accept their actions as facts. The Defense Minister has the legal tools to enforce the construction freeze, such as freezing permits given in years past."

 

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