Yediot: Settlers quickly find ‘freeze’ workaround
Settlers lay mock foundations
Zvi Singer and Itamar Eichner, Yediot, November 30 2009 [page 6]
Immediately after the prime minister announced a settlement construction freeze, settlers in a number of settlements rushed to lay fake foundations in areas that had been cleared for construction. Their goal was to make the sites in question appear in the aerial photographs to be taken by the Defense Ministry as if they contained buildings in mid-construction, the foundations of which were already fully laid.
The settlers, it appears, knew in advance about the Defense Ministry’s intention to take aerial photographs thanks to a document that fell into their hands, and they prepared in advance accordingly. The construction freeze orders stipulate the cancellation of construction permits that had already been issued for thousands of housing units because the foundations for those housing units were not laid.
Yedioth Ahronoth received inside information from the settlement Neria that the residents of the settlement were called, on Friday, to go to a section of the settlement where groundwork had been completed in advance of construction work in order to pour concrete on 20 plots that were earmarked for construction.
Peace Now monitoring teams yesterday toured settlements in Judea and Samaria and found newly-laid concrete in the settlements Neria, Modiin Illit, Elazar, Adam and Naale.
“The settlers are continuing to lie and to deceive the government and the Israeli public,” said Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer. “Now is Barak’s moment of truth and he bears responsibility for enforcing the law and must stand firm in the face of the people who refuse to accept the government’s sovereignty.”
Civil Administration officials last night said they were unaware of the reported phenomenon and told Yedioth Ahronoth that they would look into the matter.
Settlers Council officials last night also said they were unfamiliar with the information. “I don’t know anything about the subject,” said Settlers Council Chairman Danny Dayan to Yedioth Ahronoth. A leaked Defense Ministry document served to expedite the issuing of construction permits by the regional councils before the orders freezing construction were served. That is what happened in the Binyamin Regional Council. Council Chairman Avi Roeh admitted in a conversation he held with Yedioth Ahronoth: “We issue construction permits all the time. Of course in the past number of weeks the pace was higher because we knew about the intention to freeze. That’s why people ran in with their plans to have them approved.”
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Defense Ministry to hire as quickly as possible new building inspectors so as to ensure that the settlement construction freeze decision was being implemented on the ground.
Currently, only 14 building inspectors work in Judea and Samaria. Acting on the defense minister’s orders, an additional 40 building inspectors are going to be hired in the course of the next two weeks or so.
The enforcement will be the joint task of the Israel Police, the Border Police and the Civil Administration, and it will be coordinated and overseen by the IDF.