Israeli officials say that government inspectors have begun casing the West Bank for building projects that defy a recently declared 10-month moratorium on certain kinds of settlement construction, according to Reuters. These inspectors are authorized to issue stop-work orders and to confiscate construction equipment. Paving their way, IDF officials spent the past three days distributing injunctions to settlement leaders that order them to enforce the new rules, the Jerusalem Post said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the freeze, which applies to construction that is not already underway or in areas annexed to Jerusalem, last Wednesday, framing it as a bid to restart peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. On Thursday, though, P.A. chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the move was insufficient and intended to appease the U.S. government rather than Palestinians.
For their part, settlement leadership is having none of this. The head of the Samaria Regional Council “tore up a stop-work order delivered to him by an Israeli army major” yesterday and called the order “racist, immoral, and illegal,” Reuters reports. Today, a group of settlement leaders met with the government’s Construction and Housing Minister and told him they would continue building in spite of the freeze, saying “no defeatist governmental decision will stop us from building,” according to the Jerusalem Post. As of today, a settler lobbying group has also taken the issue to court, filing a petition that claims the freeze order was issued in an improper way and its implementation should be postponed.
Israel Says Enforcing W.Bank Settlement Moratorium [Reuters]
Settler Leaders: We Won’t Let Inspectors Into Settlements [Jerusalem Post]