Settlers: We won't let inspectors in

W. Bank inspectors issue

west bank construction settlement 248  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
west bank construction settlement 248
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Settler leaders on Monday vowed not to let Civil Administration inspectors into the settlements as one of a series of protest measures they have instigated against last week's security cabinet decision to freeze new construction projects that have not yet broken ground. They also agreed not to cooperate on any level with the Civil Administration, and have instructed their staff, including their engineers, to follow suit. In addition, the settler leaders also said they would refuse to attend a meeting arranged for Tuesday with the Civil Administration, in which IDF officials had intended to explain the new edict, which among other things strips them of their authority to issue construction permits. The settlers, however, have agreed, and have even sought to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. It is expected that such a meeting - the first of its kind since Netanyahu took office - would take place this week. Settler leaders also met Monday with Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias and explained to him that they planned to ignore the edict. "No defeatist governmental decision will stop us from building," they told him. Earlier Monday, Civil Administration inspectors accompanied by security forces began reinforcing the new building rules in Judea and Samaria, touring the settlements and issuing edicts ordering a halt of work at construction sites seen as violating last week's decision. Over the last three days, the IDF has distributed injunctions to 24 local and regional council heads, stripping them of their power to issue construction permits and ordering them to enforce the new building rules. Also on Monday, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asked the High Court of Justice to stop the Defense Ministry from executing the 10-month moratorium until the government votes the matter. In its petition to the court, the forum argued that the security cabinet, which approved the moratorium last week, did not have the authority to freeze new construction projects in Judea and Samaria. It said that the decision was therefore illegal and violated the civil rights of Judea and Samaria resident. The state now has ten days to respond to the petition. Attorney Yossi Fuchs, who is handling the case for the forum, said the security cabinet acted illegally in not bringing the matter to the government, because the settlement construction was not a security matter. "Someone should explain to me what this has to do with national security," said Fuchs. He added that when it came to matters pertaining to Judea and Samaria, the government was the decision-making body. It is up to the security cabinet to execute those decisions, he said. Fuchs said that any decision to freeze settlement construction needed to be authorized by the entire government, not just the security cabinet. "A decision that grievously harms the consumer rights of Israeli citizens, residents of Judea and Samaria that is not based on security concerns cannot be made in a backroom deal, in the darkness, by a secret security cabinet without announcement of prior consultation, and without providing government ministers the opportunity to contest the issue, all because they are fearful of not gaining a majority in the government," said Fuchs. Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres said that the settlement construction moratorium was of "vital importance." Speaking to reporters in Kalansuwa, Peres also said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's persistent refusal to resume peace talks citing continued construction in east Jerusalem was not clear to him, since both Arabs and Jews were allowed to build in the capital.