Settlers Prepare to Mark Freeze Expiration With Construction Surge

Thousands expected to attend rally to show the world that construction in the West Bank is resuming.

In the settlement of Revava, the countdown to the end of the construction freeze is set to begin Sunday afternoon: Thousands were expected to attend a rally with tractors, cement mixers and other equipment to broadcast to the world that construction in the territories is resuming.

Regardless of whether the freeze ends entirely, or whether some sort of compromise between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. prevents large-scale construction, MK Danny Danon (Likud ) says the development should be commemorated.

West Bank construction Sept. 2, 2010 Reuters

"We would be very troubled by any compromise, because we know it will affect construction," said Danon, who is behind the event in Revava. "The current effort is focusing on keeping the ban from being renewed, because fighting an official ban is more difficult than confronting the defense minister or officials at his office, so that they issue construction permits."

Existing construction permits would allow extensive construction in the more isolated settlements, but only limited work in the large settlement blocs.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had given verbal authorization for construction to resume today, even though it's a holiday, Danon said.

"The rabbi said construction can begin even though work is not allowed during Sukkot," he said.

Several events are planned for the day the freeze ends: In the morning, dozens of buses are scheduled to bring Likud activists to visit various settlements to hear about the damage caused by the construction hiatus, and to show support for the settlers.

At 3 P.M. there will be a ceremony marking the laying of the cornerstone of a new kindergarten in Kiryat Netafim. Local council head Gershon Mesika is scheduled to participate.

At 4 P.M., the rally in Revava is scheduled to begin. Thousands are expected to participate, including MKs and local council heads.

MK Danon said that tomorrow, construction would resume on about 2,000 housing units in various settlements.

"The construction of several hundred homes will bring joy under the current circumstances," said MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union ). "Netanyahu is anesthetizing the right wing - while he is ending the freeze officially he is busy practically destroying settlement in Judea and Samaria."

MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima ), who lives in the settlement of Ma'aleh Mikhmas, said that the resumption of construction should not undermine negotiations with the Palestinians and the important relationship with the United States.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima ) called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set a clear policy that distinguishes between construction in isolated settlements and in settlement blocks.

Plesner wrote to Netanyahu and called on him to avoid "putting narrow political interests over national interests," and warned him that this could be his political demise.