While the cabinet's announcement of a construction moratorium imposed in West Bank settlements stirred up a fury of public debate, in actuality, settlement building continues, and not just at a negligible pace.
Official numbers from the Defense Ministry show that violations of the building freeze orders were found in no less than 29 settlements. Peace Now reported that they have information about construction in five additional settlements being carried out behind the backs of Civil Administration inspectors. The leftist organization claims that work is being done on Saturdays when inspectors are not on duty.
The figures were presented by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai in response to a query issued by Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron. Topping the list of settlements are some of the larger settlements such as: Maale Adumim, Givat Ze'ev, Alfei Menashe, Beitar Illit, and Emanuel.
In addition, violations were also recorded in Nokdim, where Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives, and the nearby settlement of Tekoa. Also on the list of violators were Revava, Ma'ale Shomron, Matityahu, Beit Aryeh-Ofarim, Kedumim, Kfar Etzion, and more.
Vilnai also reported that designated enforcement efforts have been initiated against the said violators, including demolition and stop work orders. In his response, he said that Defense Ministry officials are looking into the option of imposing additional enforcement measures in accordance with their priorities and in line with all relevant considerations.
The deputy minister reported that construction equipment was confiscated in a number of instances. Peace Now responded angrily to these incidents, as well as to the work being done on Saturdays, and claimed that building is being carried out during the night in order to evade inspectors.
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said in response to Vilnai's report: "Minister Begin was correct when he assured the settlers that the building freeze has no real significance."