West Bank settlement permits banned

Orders against settlemen

Civil Administration officers began distributing orders to West Bank council heads on Friday, ordering them to cease issuing construction permits in the settlements. When served with the order, the head of the Beit El Regional Council, Moshe Rosenbaum, ripped up the piece of paper. The orders came two days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced a ten-month moratorium on housing starts in the settlements. According to Israel Radio, a total of six council heads were given orders on Friday. The remainder will be served on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Also Friday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that his ministry had taken photographs of settlement from an aircraft, in order to document construction. Earlier Friday, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shaul Goldstein blasted the decision to freeze settlement construction, saying that such moves would "only lead to further pressure being put on Israel." "The settlers will fight the freeze decision by any means at their disposal," said Goldstein. Also reacting to the settlement freeze, Deputy Coalition chairman Danny Danon (Likud) is convening a rally on Saturday night. In a statement Friday, MK Danon said he would be joined at the rally by other Likud MKs, heads of Judea and Samaria community councils, Likud party branch heads from around the country, and central Likud party activists. At the rally Danon will launch a new campaign: "Real Likud Supporters Don't Fold." On Thursday, Barak suspended all permits for building projects in the settlements where contractors have not yet broken ground. The order, valid for 10 months, is intended to enforce the Security Cabinet's decision to restrict settler-home building in this period to the 3,000 housing units that are already under construction. In an apparent "sweetener" to the settlement community, however, Barak also announced the approval of plans to build 28 public buildings, most of them educational facilities needed for the coming school year. Netanyahu had indicated in announcing the moratorium Wednesday that construction of public buildings, as well as construction in east Jerusalem, would continue. Tovah Lazaroff and Herb Keinon contributed to this report