Local Jewish councils in the West Bank launched a general strike on Sunday in protest against the government's decision to temporarily halt settlement construction in a bid to jumpstart the stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Heads of settlement councils and West Bank municipal and council employees held a demonstration in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem against the enforcement of the settlement building moratorium.
The protestors waved banners with "Bibi, you freeze at the North Pole – not here" written on them.
"We will continue on our mission to settle the land, with or without the government," said Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan.
The local council heads said the strike may be expanded to include the West Bank's educational institutions.
Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon also took part in the rally. "As Likud MKs it is our job to see to it that this disgrace is annulled," he said, referring to the construction moratorium.
Addressing the protestors, Danon said, "You are first class citizens – the salt of the earth. You are not some experimental balloon that is frozen one day and thawed the next."
'Salt of the earth.' Jerusalem protest (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The head of the South Mount Hebron Regional Council, Tzviki Bar-Hai said the strike was only the beginning. "We are not Labor or (Defense Minister Ehud) Barak's punching bag. We are the emissaries of the national home and expect the government to treat its brothers differently. This decision (moratorium) must be either withdrawn or revised."
According to Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, the settlers are battling a "racist directive that forbids Jews to build on their land only because they are Jews while trampling on their individual rights."
Mesika said Israel's leaders are looking to find favor in the eyes of the "land owner Barack Hussein Obama."
"Bibi, it's not too late to come to your senses and return to the values of the Likud party," he added.
Settler leaders announced the new protest plan last week. "We are moving forward with another phase of the struggle, which is aimed at having the freeze policy completely abolished," Dayan told a press conference.
"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," he said.