VIDEO - West Bank local council heads, accompanied by dozens of residents, arrived at the Efrat Regional Council on Wednesday to lay the cornerstone for the construction of a new synagogue in protest against the settlement freeze. "We will build by hook or by crook," the Ma'aleh Adumim council head said.
Following the violent clashes that took place Wednesday morning in Beit Aryeh, in which the local council head was arrested, council heads in the region declared that despite the government's decision to freeze construction, building will continue.
"If we have to pay the price – we will. I have no doubt that we will win this battle because we have more faith, are more determined, and more righteous," said Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan.
Some of the council heads taking part in the ceremony wore t-shirts with the words "Efrat is defrosting the freeze." In addition, signs were hung which read, "No entry for Bibi's freeze inspectors".
"We think that the order that was given and the way it was given have exceeded all reason. We are proud that we build according to the law in Efrat. It can't be that at the stroke of a hand they take all authority away from the council head and come and turn us into thieves and bandits over night," Efrat Council head, Oded Ravivi told Ynet.
Beit Aryeh Council head Avi Naim, who was arrested during Wednesday morning's clashes vowed not to remain silent. "We will meet with (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) tomorrow and tell him clearly what we think of him and his way. I will also be standing at the entrance next time," he said at the ceremony.
|Wednesday morning's clashes in Beit Aryeh (Video Avi Zur)|
"I am very sad that it has come to this point in the State of Israel. (Defense Minister) Ehud Barak today is clipping a political coupon at the expense of the State of Israel. This whole matter is clearly political. They wanted to settle a political score with me, Eitan Broshi (Barak's advisor on settlement affairs), and Barak has a long score with me.
"Broshi is personally conspiring against Beit Aryeh. He has spoken out against me many times in the past, and today he got the chance. They did not choose Beit Aryeh by chance, but they will not stop us. Tomorrow morning we will submit a petition in the High Court of Justice against the order that we believe is illegal."
Cornerstone ceremony in Efrat (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Binyamin Division Commander Colonel Aviv Reshef, ordered the confiscation of the vehicle of Beit Aryeh's security coordinator Yaron Koren, after he tried to block the entrance of the Civil Administration's instruction supervisors to the community.
The residents documented the clashes, in which Council Head Avi Naim was arrested. The vehicle which was confiscated belongs to the council, but was used by Koren. The IDF said that while the confiscation of a vehicle was an unusual step, security forces have stressed that any activity that interrupts their operation will receive a fitting response.
Meanwhile, in response to a Peace Now petition filed to the High Court of Justice, the State said it cannot evacuate six illegal West Bank outposts as part of the settlement freeze. In the petition, Peace Now called for the enforcement of demolition orders against illegal structures in Karnei Shomron, Gush Etzion, Mount Hebron and Mateh Binyamin.
The State Prosecutor's Office filed a notice on behalf of the defense minister and the IDF, in which it informed the High Court of Justice of the cabinet's decision to freeze construction in the West Bank.
"The effort required to carry out this mission necessitates reinforcements and a concentrated effort to enforce the order. This new order also calls for further enforcement missions, some of which have been raised in various petitions filed in the matter, and the question of what resources will be allocated to enforcing the building and planning laws in the West Bank."
The Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office informed the prosecution that the political echelon is currently reexamining what influence the settlement freeze will have on the enforcement of prior demolition orders. In response, the prosecution requested the court be updated on the decisions made within the next six months.
Aviad Glickman, Daniel Edelson, Naama Lanir and Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report