Peace Now: We Demand Building Freeze Extension

A 10-month building freeze has not sufficiently thwarted Jews in Judea and Samaria, according to Peace Now, and therefore must be extended.

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Malkah Fleisher, | updated: 00:35

Building in YESHA Despite Freeze
Building in YESHA Despite Freeze
Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski
A 10-month building freeze instituted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in November 2009 has not sufficiently thwarted the growth of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria, according to the European-funded Peace Now organization, and therefore must be extended.

According to the group, while Jewish construction in the areas was significantly reduced, it was not totally choked off.  Peace Now said it documented "dozens" of cases of Jews beginning some kind of building project since the initiation of the freeze.

On June 18, the anti-Judea-and-Samaria group demanded that Prime Minister Netanyahu renew the freeze, which is due to expire in September.

In a statement published by Agence France Press (AFP), Peace Now claimed "if the government will not renew the freeze in September, the last 10 months will not have significantly affected the expansion of settlements in the territories."

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to the 10-month moratorium on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria after strong pressure was applied by the United States to enact the policy as a prelude to restarting negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. However, the Palestinian Authority immediately and consistently condemned Israel for not halting construction in eastern parts of Jerusalem, and for allowing projects which were already underway to proceed.  Direct talks were not resumed.

After the freeze was put into effect, Prime Minister Netanyahu promised it would be "a one-time affair, and it is temporary." Yet the effects were felt strongly throughout Judea and Samaria, which suffered from an insufficiency of infrastructure even prior to the freeze.  While public buildings were excluded from the freeze agreement, important construction projects such as those which would create much-needed classroom space for the increasing number of students in the region were not advanced.

A large cadre of special inspectors were also charged with finding illegal buildings and building start-ups, so the government could destroy them.  Dozens of buildings, concrete foundations, and other building efforts were condemned for destruction, including a 25-meter patio in Efrat which was destroyed by 50 Yassam special police.