News24

Settlers reject PM's plea

2009-12-03 19:14

Jerusalem - Defiant West Bank settler leaders on Thursday rejected a personal plea from the prime minister to respect a government-ordered construction freeze in their communities, vowing to keep confronting security forces sent to enforce the edict.

Jewish settlers in the West Bank blocked inspectors from entering a settlement to search for unauthorised construction, the third straight day of such confrontations. There has been no violence, but authorities have made at least four arrests.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned settler leaders in a bid to defuse the tensions.

Settler leader Dani Dayan called the three-hour meeting in Tel Aviv "difficult" and "emotionally charged."

Speaking on Israel Radio, he said the settlers would continue their struggle against the freeze, both through civil disobedience and legal challenges.

The settlers have scheduled a mass demonstration in Jerusalem next week.

Netanyahu announced the 10-month freeze on building new homes last week in an attempt to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians refuse to resume talks until Israel halts all construction in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem -territories they claim for a future independent state.

They say Netanyahu's freeze order is insufficient because it does not include east Jerusalem or 3 000 homes already under construction in the West Bank.