Modi'in Ilit- Gil Cohen Magen- 14.9.2010
Construction in West Bank Settlement Modi'in Ilit, September 14, 2010 Photo by Gil Cohen Magen
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West Bank settlement leaders slammed Barack Obama's speech to the United Nations on Thursday, during which he called on Israel to extend its moratorium on settlement building.

"Our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended," Obama said about Israel's settlement freeze, which is set to expire on September 26.

Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said, "Hussein Obama is an arrogant and racist politician, who probably thinks, out of ignorance, that Israel is another dictatorship, like the rest of the countries in the Middle East."

Chairman of the Yesha Council of settlements Danny Dayan said that "Obama said in his speech that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people… this statement does not go well with prohibiting Jews to build in [West Bank settlements in] Hebron, Beit El, Shiloh and Elon Moreh."

Knesset members Zeev Elkin (Likud) and Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that "Obama's call is an unacceptable intervention [in Israel's affairs] and an attempt to forcefully overturn a decision of a sovereign government. The Americans must respect the democratic resolution made by the citizens of Israel, who voted for the strengthening of the settlement in Judea and Samaria and against territorial withdrawals and concessions."

MK Danny Danon (Likud) said that "Obama is welcome to open CNN on Sunday and watch the tractors resume construction in the land of Israel."

"Whoever puts forward the settlement freeze as a condition for peace is completely detached and is probably not a partner for peace in the Middle East," said Danon.

MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) said that this was a test for Prime Minister Netanyahu, "who can continue to act as a slave to racist Obama, or be loyal to his people and his voters."

In a statement, Netanyahu's bureau said he was standing by his position not to extend the moratorium. He has said, however, he intends to limit the scope of future settlement construction.

The settlements are deemed by the World Court to be illegal, a finding disputed by Israel. Palestinians fear the enclaves will deny them a viable and contiguous country.