Jewish settlers on Sunday marked the end of the 10-month settlement construction moratorium by laying a cornerstone for a kindergarten in the community of Kiryat Netafim.
They brought trucks to the area, poured cement and broke into applause.
"This is not a day of celebration," stressed Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika. "The freeze was born in sin, so it's natural that it would end fast. This is a racist decision which only forbids Jews to build their home in their country.
"We're laying a cornerstone to protest the injustice caused to 35 babies born here this year in Kiryat Netafim. Due to the whims of (Defense Minister) Ehud Barak,
who has failed to sign the project outline, we cannot build kindergartens, children's homes and synagogues."
Mesika used the American president's second name to slam him for demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
continue the freeze. "From this stage I turn to Hussein Obama and tell him, 'The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel.'
"Throughout history leaders have conspired against the people of Israel, but they live on, while (the leaders) have disappeared off the history pages. So we will continue to build and develop the communities, in spite of the opposition of all the oppressors, inside and outside."
Another ceremony was held in the settlement of Revava, where Likud
activists arrived on 80 buses. The speakers urged the prime minister to keep his promise and renew the construction, while slamming Defense Minister Ehud Barak
for "torturing" them.
The ceremony was attended by secular and religious people, and participants waved the flags of Israel, Canada and Finland. A number of Chinese citizens arrived at the event as well, waving flags of China.
Israel and China flags in Revava (Photo: Ido Erez)
Druze Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara said in his speech that Israel's
security was measured according to the continuation of settlements. "When Jews were expelled from Gush Katif, we though we would reach the international border and 'the redeemer will come to Zion.' They continued hitting us and throwing Qassams at Ashkelon and Ashdod.
"The game in the Middle East is strong. Kill or be killed," he said, stating that he was a Jew and a Zionist "more than all other Jews and Zionists."
MK Tzipi Hotovely said the Likud was not elected to establish a Palestinian state. She slammed the defense minister, saying he should not be in charge of life in Judea and Samaria. "The Israeli sovereignty must be applied on the area where Jewish communities were built in Judea and Samaria," she added.
Some 620 residents live in Kiryat Netafim, which has one kindergarten for 35 infants. According to the council head, due to the freeze and the delay in the construction of the second kindergarten, some 70 infants are forces to squeeze into one center.
Benny Katzover, chairman of the Samaria Settlers' Committee, rejected Netanyahu's request to practice restraint. "I suggest that we prepare for the possibility of a continued freeze," he said.
Knesset Member Danny Danon (Likud) apologized to the residents of Kiryat Netafim for "the State of Israel treating them like second class citizens for 10 months, not letting them build a kindergarten."
Danon, who turned to Obama in English, called on Netanyahu to "be strong and we will all support you. Don't capitulate."
The prime minister asked the settlers to show restraint and responsibility, "today and later on," but they have no plans to accept a settlement construction freeze any longer.
Earlier, Yesha Council leaders gathered
near in the sukkah of Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin (Likud), near his home in the settlement of Kfar Eldad in the Gush Etzion Regional Council.
"We gather here today both in honor of the Sukkot holiday and to discuss the end of the freeze," Elkin said at the start of the meeting. "This is a symbolic gathering place, in one of the frozen communities. Kfar Eldad has people who have been living in caravans for 20 years and have not been able to build their homes. This reality is about to end tonight, and life in Judea and Samaria will return to normal."