Israel okays 28 new settlement buildings, despite freeze
State expected to ask Supreme Court for more time to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday ordered the IDF to issue a temporary freeze order, but at the same time allowed the construction of 28 new public buildings in settlements.
Meanwhile, Haaretz has learned that the state is expected to ask the Supreme Court for more time to evacuate illegal outposts. The State Attorney's Office is expected to update the Supreme Court by next week on three court rulings that have not been carried out, for the evacuation of outposts at Eli, Horsha, and Netiv Ha'avot, as well as six other locations in the West Bank.
Haaretz also learned that in discussions on the matter between security and law officials, the state intends to ask the court for more time in order to prepare a suitable policy for razing the illegal outposts, in view of the developments related to the freeze in settlement construction.
For its part, efforts were underway Thursday to maximize the impact of the freeze on the international arena. So far, the Israeli announcement had not had a warm reception in the international community. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the decision to freeze settlements "is a step in the right direction, and its implementation would be a positive contribution to peace."
Similar statements were issued by the German government, while the government of Britain emphasized in its statement that it was displeased by the fact that the freeze was not absolute - in other words does not include East Jerusalem. The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement calling on Israel to freeze settlement construction completely.
On Thursday, Israel relayed messages to members of the European Union and other western countries, calling on them to pressure the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states to resume negotiations with Israel. In its message, Israel also called on friendly countries to help convince the Arab world to avoid unilateral steps in light of the government decision to freeze settlement construction for 10 months.