Barak loosens West Bank moratorium

Barak loosens West Bank

barak pretty good 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry)
barak pretty good 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday evening issued an update to the 10-month moratorium on new Jewish West Bank construction. Barak restored some of the authorities that local and regional council heads had lost. Settler leaders have lobbied for this change since they were stripped of all powers to issue buildings permits when the order that upheld the moratorium was issued. Defense officials said that language in the order had been changed to allow council heads to issue permits for renovations, as long as it did not allow additional apartment units to be added to a building, but simply modified existing ones. Council heads can also issue permits for changes in building plans in structures that are already under construction, but the same restriction against additional apartment units applies. Permits can be granted for infrastructure work within the populated areas of a settlement, but not around its perimeter. In addition, planning work for additional construction in settlements can continue, but those plans will not be authorized during the moratorium. Efrat Council chairman Oded Raviv immediately attacked the change, which he said was only cosmetic in nature. David Ha'ivri, executive director of the Shomron Liaison office, said the change showed that certain aspects of the moratorium were illegitimate. The change "was positive" and he hoped that more changes would be forthcoming, Ha'ivri said.