As the 10-month settlement freeze expired at midnight, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom toured the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday and called the prime minister's initial decision to freeze the settlements a "mistake."
Speaking at Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs, Shalom responded to the Palestinian request to extend the settlement moratorium by three months, saying that even the 10 month freeze had been excessive.
Shalom said that the decision to end settlement building in the West Bank was a "mistaken" and "unwarranted" decision. Shalom said that he had been opposed to the settlement freeze from the beginning, and that it was a decision that no past prime minister ever agreed to.
Addressing Sunday's West Bank shooting after which a woman gave birth, Shalom said that the Jewish child which was born is proof of the Jewish nation's eternality, which will only continue to grow and develop.
Construction of dozens of housing units resumed in the settlements of Ariel, Ravava, Yakir and Kochav a Hashachar, where bulldozers began clearing ground for new developments, which received permits before the freeze began.
Settlers currently have plans for around 2,000 new homes across the West Bank. Of these, around 600 have up-to-date paperwork and are expected to be completed in the coming months.
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