Settlers: Put building freeze 'on ice'

Settlers strike to put b

Settlers plan to "break the freeze" - literally - by chopping up a house made of ice that they intend to build in front of the Prime Minister's Residence on Monday morning. It's their latest move to protest the 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction imposed on Judea and Samaria at the end of November. On Sunday, local and regional councils held a one-day strike for all but essential services. Instead of heading to work, municipal workers traveled from across Judea and Samaria to rally in front of the Prime Minister's Office during the weekly cabinet meeting. They held signs with slogans such as "The freeze will go with the breeze," "Build houses. Plant trees. Our answer to the freeze" and "Jews are not popsicles." As rain clouds darkened the sky, and a wind chilled the air, protesters blew whistles and chanted, "We're breaking the freeze!" Many wore blue T-shirts that sported that same slogan. Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, declared, "We came to wake up the government so it will shake off its fatigue, stop the diplomacy of Meretz and start building the land, a move for which it was elected." Calling out to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Samaria Regional Council Chairman Gershon Mesika said, "Bibi, it's not too late to come to your senses." He was one of a number of council heads who asked Netanyahu to be true to the values of his party, which traditionally has supported the development of Judea and Samaria. They demanded that the government end the moratorium and warned that it was just the first step toward an eventual withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem. "Those who do not believe that this is also a fight for Jerusalem do not understand what is happening here," South Hebron Hills Regional Council Chairman Tzvika Bar-Hai said. "Do you want to go like lambs to the slaughter?" Bar-Hai asked. Karnei Shomron Regional Council Chairman Herzl Ben-Ari said, "With this moratorium you say to the Palestinians and to the world, 'Yes. Yes, Judea and Samaria are up for negotiations along the borders of 1967." The Palestinians, Ben-Ari said, plan to destroy Israel in stages. "First the 1967 line, then the 1948 line, and then the blue line, which is the sea," he said. Likud MK Danny Danon said there were many ministers inside the cabinet room who believed the moratorium was a mistake. "They can hear your voices in the hallways. We have an obligation to fight against the moratorium and to allow Jews to live in Israel," Danon said. Before the demonstrators headed into the streets of Jerusalem to march to the protest tent settlers had set up outside Netanyahu's official residence last week, Dayan told them the government was "tired." "It has caved in to international forces, real or imagined," he said. "If today the government sees its Zionist mission is to prevent construction, then we will continue to build without it. "This national government has to understand that its goal cannot be the destruction of the settlements. Its goal has to be building and development everywhere in our homeland. We want the government to return to its true path, the Jewish path," Dayan said. In recent weeks, he said, inspectors came to the settlements with magnifying glasses to identify which homes had foundations and thus could be worked on during the moratorium, and which lacked foundations, meaning that work on them must stop. "What a shortsighted government that lacks faith. Does it not see that the foundations [in Judea and Samaria] are Jewish history, divine promises and the rights of our forefathers? These are the most just foundations and they cannot be built from concrete and steel," Dayan said.