Yesha Council heads and heads of West Bank local authorities plan to step up their battle against the settlement construction freeze, and plan to go to Jerusalem next Sunday and set demonstrate in a protest tent put up in front of the prime minister's home.
According to the plan, the authority heads will move their offices to the protest then and the authorities themselves will hold a day-long strike and will not provide any services.
The settler heads launched a sit-down strike in the protest tent on Tuesday. In the coming days they plan to hold PR activities and protests against the construction freeze, including rallies, pickets and PR stands for passersby to get more information on the struggle.
Knesset members and public figures from across Israel are also slated to visit the protest tent.
The new protest plan was announced by the West Bank authority heads in a press conference at the protest tent Tuesday afternoon. "We are moving forwards with another phase of the struggle, which is aimed at having the freeze policy completely abolished," said Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan.
"We are not allowed to build a Jewish home from the outskirts of Afula to the outskirts of Arad, from the outskirts of Kfar Saba to the Jordan River, while Arabs build freely. We call for an end to the plan and are acting in a completely non-violent way.
"We consider this an illegitimate policy. We will continue to refuse to cooperate; we will not let inspectors into the communities. We will not stray from the mission to build the land.
"It is obvious that the struggle will be long and ongoing," he added. "We heard the ministers say they don't mean the kind of freeze that undemocratically puts all authority and enforcement methods in the hands of the security forces.
A lesson may have been learned with regards to the method of enforcement, and Barak received the images of violence, even towards authority heads. We demand that the government restore authority to the communities' heads. This is intolerable in a democratic country."
'We won't take this lying down'Dayan further added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch have repeated statements in recent days that the freeze is only temporary. "We demand that this statement is immediately backed up by actions," he stressed. "There is no reason that development works be suspended, as well as planning works, so that everything is ready for the day after the freeze."
"Communities can't go on as usual with the freeze looming," Tsviki Bar Hai Head of Har Hevron Regional Council. "We are the chosen representatives of 300,000 residents. The State of Israel, sans legislation, has harmed 300,000 people and infringed on the authorities of their selectmen and we are not willing to take that lying down. We expect mayors across Israel to join our fight. Today it's us – tomorrow it will be others."
Bar Hai insists that allowing further construction "is out duty to this public." The government, he added, must apply the lessons learned after the 2005 disengagement: "Four years ago we underwent the uprooting of settlements – entire communities were expelled from their land – and what did we get? A Hamas state. If, heaven forbid, this freeze materializes, Beersheba, the greater Tel Aviv area and Hadera will come under fire. I hope the prime minister and the cabinet come to their senses and restore our municipal authorities. "
Avi Naim, head of the Beit Arye-Ofarim Council added that "in our meetings with Central Command Chief Avi Mizrahi and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch were realized that no one wanted to deal with this hot potato. The only one that is gearing for a fight is Ehud Barak, and he want to apply his party's political agenda."