The end of the settlement construction freeze on Monday was felt not only by the settlers, but also their Palestinian neighbors. Hundreds of laborers flooded West Bank settlements as of the early morning hours and could be seen operating bulldozers. They agreed to build, but not to talk, due to fears of a Palestinian boycott of the settlements.
One of the workers, a Palestinian resident of the Jerusalem area who asked to remain anonymous, said "I just want to build. At the end of the day both sides need to make a living, and although we are rivals, the need to put food on the table overrides everything else. I have no problem building settlements; I have been doing it for twenty years."
"We want genuine and just peace, just like everyone else, but peace without income is worthless," he added. "I don't care if the settlements stay here. The most important thing is for us to live in peace, what's wrong with that? We don't believe the boycott on settlement goods will last. The workers cannot survive another extended period of just sitting at home without doing anything, which has been the case now for almost a year."
Most of the Palestinian construction workers at the construction sites refused to give an interview. They quietly and hesitantly said that the second phase of the boycott on settlements is to begin, which stipulates they will not be able to work for settlers.
"They are being threatened with five years in prison if they work for us after January 1," Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council said.
"It concerns us just as much as it concerns them. The real coexistence, after all, happens here, and the Palestinian Authority is trying to sabotage this. I am the one who wants peace and they just want war. This is the difference between us."
Goldstein said that the start of construction in the settlement of Neve Daniel was celebrated with a joint barbeque which included all 80 Palestinian construction workers and 40 Jews.
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook