Daily Israel Report

Kibbutzim Leave Labor over Construction Freeze

Kibbutzim in the Jordan Valley have reportedly left the Labor Party, in protest over enforcement of the construction freeze.
By Maayana Miskin and Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/26/2010, 10:15 AM / Last Update: 4/26/2010, 12:37 PM

Flash 90

Kibbutzim (agricultural cooperatives) in the Jordan Valley have left the Labor Party's "Takam" Kibbutz movement, in light of Defense Minister Ehud Barak's enforcement of the construction freeze. Takam is an acronym for United Kibbutz Movement, the organization founded in its current format in 1981 in association with the Labor Party.

The last straw for the kibbutzim came last week when Barak, head of the Labor Party, insisted on demolishing the foundations for new homes in Kibbutz Almog and Beit HaAravah. The foundations were to be the first step in building housing for the children of kibbutz members.

The foundations were nearly complete when the Judea and Samaria construction freeze was announced last November. The kibbutz members promised that, after completing the foundations, they would halt construction until the freeze ended. However, Barak refused to accept their promise and demanded demolition of all foundations not completed before the freeze went into effect.

Mordechai Dahman, head of the Dead Sea Regional Council, told Dalia Mazori of Maariv that kibbutz representatives had met with Barak several times in an attempt to resolve the issue, to no avail. “I told him, we honor the law and we won't play around, but please leave the foundations alone. He stood his ground,” Dahman recalled.

Contact from Takam
"The claim we heard from him was that Obama wanted to see that construction is being demolished everywhere it takes place and not just in the settlements,” he said. He explained afterwards to Israel National News that he meant that Obama wants to see all construction work destroyed, and not only that which began after the freeze was announced.

"We won't pay dues to the Takam movement, and we won't take part in their meetings - nothing," Dahman said. "Under these conditions, it's best for us to be on our own." He said that since his announcement to this effect, some Labor Party leaders had called him to ask for a meeting. "We'll see what they say," Dahman concluded.

Many Israeli residents of the Jordan River Valley are Labor loyalists who settled the area under the auspices of Labor-led governments. Successive governments have assured residents of the area that the Jordan Valley will remain in Israel's hands even under a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority.