West Bank settlers carry on building as new freeze is proposed

West Bank settlers carry on building as new freeze is proposed

At the small Jewish community of Revava in the northern West Bank, it was difficult to see yesterday what difference Israel’s freeze on settlement building would make. Construction continued on 20 housing units and the locals were apparently unperturbed by politicking between Jerusalem and Washington.

Under the proposal announced by Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, no new residential permits will be issued and no new residential construction can start for ten months in the West Bank, excluding east Jerusalem. This was not stopping an American-Israeli homeowner and his family, who were working on the shell of their new house — one of 3,000 that have already been started and which will, therefore, continue.

The settlers of Revava admitted that existing curbs on building were beginning to bite. “It is a big problem,” said David, an armed private security guard. “There’s a great demand for housing here. There are lots of people applying for housing. My family lived in a three-room apartment but the family grew and now it is too small.”

The settlers, who call the West Bank area Judea and Samaria, said that they would do their best to continue building, despite the Government’s plans. “This is the heartland of our national claim, and the essence of Zionism is the return to the heartland where we once lived,” said David Ha-Ivry, a spokesman for the Jewish community in the northern West Bank. “There are things that can be done [by the Government] to make it difficult for us to proceed, but we find solutions. It’s part of the game. We’re doing pretty well.” [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — Anywhere else in the world, what the Israeli government calls a “freeze” would be called a development plan.

Even if this ten-month pause is actually enforced (and that, as the article above suggests, seems unlikely), to stop housing construction while continuing infrastructure and services expansion is transparently a plan to further entrench the policy of colonization.

Haaretz reports: “Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday ordered the IDF to issue a temporary freeze order, but at the same time allowed the construction of 28 new public buildings in settlements.”

Perhaps the Israeli government should adopt a new expression for their practice of animated suspension: a fluid freeze.

Can Obama stand up to Israel?

President Obama urgently needs to distance Washington from the provocative – and illegal – actions the Israeli government has been undertaking in Jerusalem.

He needs to do this to save the two-state solution that he supports between Israelis and Palestinians. He needs to do it, too, because it will help protect US troops around the world. Jerusalem is a core concern for many of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, and with US forces now facing tense situations in several majority-Muslim countries, Washington has a stronger need than ever to keep the goodwill of the peoples of those lands. [continued…]

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