Settlement council declares building freeze over

Construction renewed in violation of moratorium; council chairman: Building is the natural thing to do in response to violence.

311_Adam settlement building (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Adam settlement building
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip announced on Thursday that construction has been renewed in dozens of locations across the West Bank, in violation of the building freeze set to end at midnight in September 26.
The projects launched on Thursday include a community center in Beit Hagai, the home of four Israelis killed by terrorists near Kiryat Arba on Tuesday night.
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The following day, gunmen opened fire on a husband and wife driving near the Kochav Hashahar settlement, about 30 km. north of Jerusalem.
The couple were lightly wounded but managed to flee their car and hide in a ditch, where they called for help.
Hamas said it was responsible for both attacks.
The 10-month housing-start freeze was imposed by the cabinet at the urging of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority, and has been met by sustained opposition from Israelis throughout the West Bank, members of Netanyahu’s Likud Party and others.
'Building is natural response to violence'
Naftali Bennett, the chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the building is “the natural thing to do in response to violence.”
Communities throughout Judea and Samaria “are gradually starting to do what would have begun happening anyway on September 26.
We aren’t whining or deciding to use violence in response to terrorism, we feel that the most important thing is to strengthen our communities,” Bennett said.
When asked if he felt that the early resumption of construction was punishing Fatah for the actions of Hamas, he said, “That is nonsense.
The Palestinian leadership has always used the cocktail of violence mixed with soft words of peace.
They realize that there are times when they can get concessions through talks and they understand that other times they can get them through violence.”
“I don’t buy that Fatah is peace-loving,” he said.
Bennett said that in his opinion and that of the council, renewed building won’t harm the chance for peace, rather, the diplomatic talks in Washington threaten to scuttle an “unprecedented era of prosperity for Jews and Palestinians alike in Judea and Samaria,” by bringing “a new wave of terrorism that will ruin the security built over eight years of work.”
Thursday’s construction followed groundbreaking ceremonies held the day before at a number of locations in the West Bank, which residents said were meant as a response to the terrorist attack near Kiryat Arba, and not a gesture meant to coincide with the launch of talks with the PA.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for a sports center at the Adam (Geva Binyamin) settlement on Wednesday, local council head Bebe Vanunu said the building was renewed early as a response to the terrorist attack “and because of the distress of the local children who need the facility built.”
The Council of Jewish Communities also planned to hold a ceremony at Beit Hagai on Wednesday, but canceled it out of respect for the bereaved families of the victims of Tuesday’s attack.