Israeli Minister admits settlement 'freeze' no real

An Israeli cabinet minister said, the population of Jewish settlements in the West Bank could grow by 10,000 in the coming year despite a declared "settlement freeze"

Israeli Minister admits settlement 'freeze' no real

An Israeli cabinet minister said, the population of Jewish settlements in the West Bank could grow by 10,000 in the coming year despite a declared "freeze" on Israeli building in the occupied territory, admitting it is no real freeze.

Benny Begin, a rightist minister and member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, told a conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday night that the settlement moratorium was not a full construction "freeze" in the accepted sense of the word.

He noted that 3,000 homes already started would be completed regardless of the freeze, and said about 10,000 more settlers would move in, according to reports by Israel Radio and the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

"This is neither a freeze nor a suspension," the paper quoted Begin as saying. "Construction in Judea and Samaria will continue in the next 10 months," he said, using the Biblical term for the West Bank.

"We are ... saying that we don't intend to restrict or suspend new building permits."

Begin is a member of the ministerial commission responsible for the implementation of the 10-month moratorium on new building permits for settler buildings announced two weeks ago amid US-led pressure to freeze settlement construction.

The moratorium excludes settlements in occupied Arab east Jerusalem and several thousand buildings where construction has already started.

US actually bowed to Israel's refusal to stop settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. U.S. President Barack Obama himself called only for "restraint" in settlement, not the "freeze" he had previously demanded, a retreat from his policy.

The Palestinians demand a complete freeze on Jewish construction in the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem, which they want to be the capital of their promised state.

The roadmap calls on Israel to remove all outpost settlements erected after 2001 and to stop settlement expansion, but thus far Israel has not heeded US and international demands for a complete settlement freeze.

The World Court has ruled all settlements illegal under international law. Palestinians, who want their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, see the settlements as a land grab as an occupier "state".

Meanwhile, suspected Jewish settlers vandalised a West Bank mosque on Friday, torching its library and spraying hate messages in Hebrew in the northern West Bank's Yasuf village. The attack destroyed copies of the Quran and carpets which were inside.

One of the slogans sprayed on a wall read: "Get ready to pay the price." Another read: "We will burn you all."

The area is home to some of the most hardline settlers who advocate a "price tag" policy under which they attack Palestinians in retaliation for any Israeli government measure.


Agencies

Last Mod: 11 Aralık 2009, 15:56
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