- Title: WEST BANK: Jewish settlers protest against halting of settlement construction
- Date: 3rd December 2009
- Summary: WORKER FLATTENING CEMENT WITH WOOD DEVICE
- Embargoed: 18th December 2009 12:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA4MBZJM3HMIFQXH29SV817JR9Q
- Story Text: Jewish settlers scuffled with Israeli security forces and blocked roads across the West Bank on Wednesday (December 2), in protest against inspectors trying to enforce a government moratorium on new building starts in Jewish settlements.
Under pressure from the United States, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month freeze on new housing projects last week in an attempt to persuade Palestinians to return to U.S.-sponsored peace talks suspended a year ago.
Near the West Bank settlement of Alon More, settlers scuffled with Israeli security forces as they tried to stop inspectors from entering the area.
Near the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha, and in a checkpoint next to the West Bank city of Nablus, settlers blocked roads with rocks, which were later removed by Israeli security forces. In the Outskirts of Nablus, Jewish settlers hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers.
Meanwhile, in the Jewish settlement of Kedumim, settler girls held a demonstration in protest against the moratorium.
In an effort to ease the fears of the settlers, many of whom are political allies of his right-wing Likud party, Netanyahu had told an audience in Tel Aviv the moratorium was "a one-time decision and it is temporary."
But in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, settlers launched a construction project in defiance of the moratorium. People and media crews arrived at the area to watch the cement being poured into the ground, which was surrounded by banners reading "Bibi: Arabs - In, Jews - Out".
Danny Dayan, head of an umbrella organisation for settlements, told Reuters that the construction will continue with or without government's approval.
"We are determined to keep with our mission, not to deviate from it even for one second, of course not for ten months. Our mission is to build this country, to construct it, to develop it, and we decided to do it...we prefer to do it with the government. But if it has to be without the government, than it will be without the government," Dayan said.
Mayor of Efrat, Oded Ravivi, added that the Israeli government didn't take into consideration the moratorium's implications on people's lives.
"The outrage that the population are expressing these days are just a minor indication of the implications that these restricting orders have. It's hurting a large amount of people, with a lot of financial implications. And I'm almost positive that the Israeli government hasn't taken it into account before they took out these restricting orders," Ravivi said.
Netanyahu urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yet again to resume negotiations suspended since last December and said the Palestinians "need this peace no less than we do."
Abbas has demanded a settlement freeze before talks may resume and has rejected the construction hiatus as insufficient.
The moratorium does not apply to some 3,000 settler housing units under construction, nor to 500 other housing units recently approved, Netanyahu said. It also doesnt apply to areas Israel annexed to its Jerusalem municipality after a 1967 war.
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