Danon: Settlers will start building the moment freeze ends

Construction should resume in areas Israel expects to retain, Meridor says.

Dan Meridor 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Dan Meridor 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Just as one might count down to the end of a religious holiday, MK Danny Danon (Likud) already knows the exact moment the 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction will end.
That would be 6:06 p.m. Tel Aviv time on September 26, he told The Jerusalem Post.
Danon said that he and opponents of the freeze were not planning to let it last any longer than that.
Although the clock on his Web site that monitors the number of weeks, hours and minutes until the moratorium expires shows that it ends that day at midnight, he said that for all practical purposes, it will will stop in the evening.
“When the sun sets, people will start to build,” he said.
Danon told the Post that opponents of the freeze are already planning a large ceremony in Samaria for that moment, complete with tractors that will break ground for new homes. He added that they are already in the process of hiring buses to bring at least 200 Likud party members to an event that will be held together with the Samaria Regional Council.
He was inspired to go public with the plan after hearing Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor tell Army Radio on Tuesday morning that there would be only a limited amount of building once the moratorium ended. Meridor added that the moratorium should be extended in areas of the West Bank that are likely to become part of a future Palestinian state, although building should resume in settlements expected to be part of Israel in any final status agreement.
“It is not right to build in areas that will go to Palestinians [after negotiations are completed], but it is right to continue building in areas that will belong to Israel, such as Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion,” said Meridor, who stressed that his remarks reflected his own personal opinion and not the official stance of the government.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted that no change was made to the moratorium deadline, and many of his high-level ministers, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have said there were no plans to extend it. But many people still believe Netanyahu is likely to extend the freeze in exchange for an agreement by the Palestinians to enter direct negotiations with Israel.
Direct talks between the two sides broke down in December 2008 and have yet to be resumed.
Meridor has proposed a compromise position that would allow some construction to continue.
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, called Meridor’s idea to continue building in only limited parts of Judea and Samaria a dangerous move that would harm Israel’s negotiating position with the Palestinians.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.