Peace Now holds rally near Talmon backing freeze

Protesters argue renewed building would ruin talks.

building311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Dozens of activists attended a rally organized by Peace Now near the Talmon settlement, between Modi’in Illit and Ramallah, on Thursday, to demonstrate their support for an extension of the settlement freeze that is set to expire on September 26.
Carrying signs and chanting slogans, the demonstrators called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to continue the moratorium on housing starts, arguing that renewed building in the West Bank would scuttle chances for a deal with the Palestinians, and any hopes for a two-state solution.
Organizers and participants in the demonstration, including Meretz chairman Haim Oron and Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon, called on Netanyahu to extend the freeze, saying that ending it could threaten the peace talks.
“I came to the protest as a member of the coalition, to strengthen and support Netanyahu’s position on the two-state solution,” Ben-Simon said, adding that he hopes the prime minister “sticks to his ideas and won’t let the fanatics from his own party change his mind.”
Ben-Simon said that while he couldn’t speak for Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, it was his belief and that of many other Labor members that if Netanyahu ends the freeze, the party’s 13 MKs should leave the coalition.
“Many members of the Labor Party don’t think he should change his policy supporting the freeze, but maybe Barak has a different position,” Ben- Simon said.
Talmon has around 800 residents and is one of many settlements that have vowed to renew construction as soon as the freeze ends. Talmon spokesman Tzuri Tzof told The Jerusalem Post that residents plan to build around 28 housing units once the moratorium is over.
Benjamin Spier contributed to this report.