Begin: Life in settlements must go on

Begin Life in settlemen

Likud Benny Begin said that normal life must go on in the settlements in spite of the 10-month moratorium on new Jewish West Bank construction and he promised on Tuesday to try to ease some of its restrictions. Begin who voted for the moratorium and is a member of a special governmental committee that deals with issues relating to the freeze, visited the Beitar Illit settlement to try and assess the impact of the decree. Upon hearing of the financial hardships caused to families to now stand to lose money on construction projects, he said, "No one intended to freeze [normal] life. It is my intention to work to restore the authority [which the moratorium] stripped from the local authorities [in the settlements]." he added that the planing process for new construction should continue because it was not reasonable to freeze that as well. His statements were released to the press by the Beitar Illit spokesman's office. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog [Labor], who also visited Beitar Illit on Tuesday, said he supported the freeze but that it was important to compensate settlers for the money they have lost as a result of the moratorium even though he supported the . it is possible that he could ask the government to address the issue at its weekly meeting this Sunday. He said that he respected the city's decision not to thwart the civil administration inspectors as they drove through the settlement to seek out building violations, as other West Bank communities have done. "Here they are not tearing up injunctions or chasing away inspectors," he said. Its important for Israel to do everything possible to advance the peace process, said Herog who added that this was particularly true for a city like Beitar Illit, which was within the "consensus" and would likely remain part of Israel in any final status agreement wit the Palestinians. Herzog had initially planned to focus on the efforts to work with children and youth at risk in the town but ended up hearing about some of the financial problems that resident's now face due to the building freeze. Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.