Israeli Minister Benny Begin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, insisted today that the settlement freeze announced by the government wasn’t really a freeze at all, and that the settlements would continue to be expanded during the 10 month period.
“Over the next 10 months the population of 300,000 will grow by at least 10,000 residents,” Begin insisted, adding “we don’t intend to restrict or suspend new building permits.”
When Israel announced the freeze in the last week of November, it was presented as a limited freeze on new construction permits. Almost immediately after the freeze was announced, the government approved 28 new construction projects that weren’t covered by the ban.
Then, as if to underscore how little meaning the settlement had, the government announced new construction projects that were supposed to have been covered by the freeze would be approved anyhow.
Despite the fact that the freeze is essentially meaningless, settlers have reacted with outrage, today attacking a mosque and burning copies of the Qu’ran in Yasuf village. So far, Israeli police have not arrested anyone over the attacks, but they did manage to smash into a Palestinian teacher’s home in the middle to the night and arrest him for protesting against a barrier being built through his village.