Israeli Settlers Defy Temporary Construction Freeze

Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank say they will continue to defy their government's order to freeze new construction for the next 10 months

Jewish settler Amitai Sharon in Tekai
Jewish settler Amitai Sharon in Tekai


Luis Ramirez

Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank say they will continue to defy their government's order to freeze new construction for the next 10 months.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to quell the anger of settlers by saying that Israel will go back to building at the end of the 10-month period.  Our correspondent went to the West Bank settlement of Tekoa near Bethlehem, and reports Israeli West Bank settlers there are holding the Israeli leader to his word.

It is not prime real estate, but for Amitai Sharon this barren piece of land is the future.

He poured money into building plans and looked forward to beginning work on a modest home.

"At the start of the week, I was supposed to start building," said Amitai Sharon. "Then, the government inspectors came. I am out of luck.  It took me two years to get the blueprints."

Like many young settlers at the Tekoa settlement, Sharon and his family have been living in a trailer.

"Right now, we cannot build and it means that we'll live here for another year at least, maybe," he said. "Who knows how much longer it will be before this matter is resolved."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says settlers like Sharon will have to wait ten months.  The Israeli leader announced a temporary suspension of new construction in West Bank settlements in a bid for peace with the Palestinians. They say the settlements are eating up lands intended for a Palestinian state.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu


Mr. Netanyahu has reaffirmed that building in the West Bank will continue after the moratorium.

That has not been enough to quell the anger of settlers. 

This banner at the entrance to the nearby Efrat settlement says there is no entry for Mr. Netanyahu's inspectors - sent out to enforce the freeze.

Concrete continues to pour.  In a message of defiance, activists at Efrat invited reporters to witness the laying of a foundation.

Herodion - former palace for Jewish King Herod
Herodion - former palace for Jewish King Herod

Tekoa lies in the shadows of Herodion. Two millennia ago it was a palace for the Jewish King Herod. 

For Amitai Sharon, it is a reminder of what he believes is his right to be here.

"When I look down and see the houses of the Arabs, then I look up and see Herodion, I remember who was here first,' said Amitai Sharon.

Sharon says he is not angry about the ban. For him, it's just a matter of time.  

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