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Israeli Settlers Protest Freeze on West Bank Construction

Israelis protest settlements' freeze, 9 Dec 2009

Israelis protest settlements' freeze, 9 Dec 2009

About 10,000 Jewish settlers gathered in Jerusalem for protest took place outside residence of Israeli PM Netanyahu

Jewish settlers staged a major demonstration Wednesday against the Israeli government they helped to elect.

About 10,000 Jewish settlers gathered in Jerusalem to protest the government's freeze on construction in West Bank settlements. The demonstration took place outside the official residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Demonstrator Yitzhak Liebowitz accused the government of abandoning Zionism and caving in to dictates from the United States. "I'm disappointed in the people who claim to be the leaders of the right-wing constituency in the country. And I think they failed. And I think they don't deserve to be the leaders. And I think they have to face up to the reality that their seats are more important to them than their ideology," he said.

Mr. Netanyahu has been a strong supporter of Jewish settlement in all of the biblical land of Israel, but he imposed the construction freeze last month after urging from the United States, which sees the settlements as an obstacle to peace.

But the Palestinians say the freeze is not enough to revive U.S.-sponsored peace talks because it does not include disputed East Jerusalem and some 3,000 Jewish homes already under construction in the West Bank.

West Bank settler David Ben Moshe says the United States is appeasing the Palestinians while ignoring Israel's biblical claims to the land. "If Jews can live in Tel Aviv, well, I can certainly live and walk on the streets that Abraham and Joseph walked on thousands of years ago," he said.

The settlers carried signs saying, "Break the freeze" and "We will continue to build."