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Israeli companies violate West Bank construction freeze
Israeli companies violate West Bank construction freeze
May 30, 2024 8:12 AM

  Israeli building companies are trying to circumvent a construction freeze in West Bank settlements, sometimes by laying the foundations to new apartments after dark or during the weekend, an Israeli human rights organization said Monday.

  Peace Now, which monitors settlement growth, said that violations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 10-month building moratorium took place in at least 33 of the 121 Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

  Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, responding to a parliamentary question by a left-wing lawmaker, admitted that authorities had caught violations of the freeze in 28 Jewish settlements.

  In a statement Monday, Peace Now said it had evidence of violations in five additional settlements.

  It said it documented at least 14 cases where new foundations were laid after Netanyahu announced the moratorium on November 26.

  Under the moratorium, settlers are not allowed to build any new residential buildings during the next 10 months. Public buildings such as schools and kindergartens are exempt, but so are some 3,000 apartment buildings whose construction had already begun before the moratorium - or whose foundations were already in place.

  As a result, building companies have tried to get around the freeze by quickly laying new foundations, sometimes at night.

  It published a video showing construction work under after dark in the Jewish settlement of Givat Habrecha.

  The group gave no figure as to how many foundations of new buildings had been put into place since the freeze began.

  The Palestinians have rejected the partial freeze as insufficient, especially since it also excludes East Jerusalem.

  They have made a freeze on all Israeli construction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem a precondition for resuming "peace talks".

  PHOTO CAPTION

  Palestinian protesters stand on a hill in their West Bank village of Nabi Saleh overlooking the Israeli settlement of Halamish on February 5, 2010.

  Source: Agencies

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