�29 settlements defy freeze order�

The Jerusalem Post (Link) - Tovah Lazaroff (February 15, 2010)

Twenty-nine West Bank Jewish communities are in violation of the 10-month moratorium on new construction in the settlements, according to Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna�i.

He made the statement in writing, in a mandated response to a direct question posed to him by Meretz chairman Haim Oron, through a question and answer system in the Knesset.

He added that enforcement action had been initiated, including the issuance of demolition orders. Further action is being weighed, he said.

Although he gave his response on January 26, Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said that Oron received it only a few days ago.

Peace Now circulated it to the media on Sunday night. It added that it believes there have been violations of the housing-start moratorium in 33 settlements.

The NGO has posted two videos on YouTube to show that settlers are building illegally. Peace Now has alleged that in Talmon and Neria, workers have been working during Shabbat.

It further alleged that the Ministry of Construction and Housing had allowed contractors in the Betar Illit settlement to market homes frozen by the moratorium and as such, not yet built.

Settlements that Vilna�i said had violated the freeze include: Adam (Geva Binyamin), Oranit, Eilon Moreh, Alfei Menashe, Elkana, Beit Aryeh, Betar Illit, Barkan, Givat Ze�ev, Har Gilo, Talmon, Yakir, Kfar Eldad (Nokdim), Kfar Etzion, Ma�aleh Adumim, Ma�aleh Shomron, Matityahu, Nokdim, Imanuel, Etz Efrayim, Psagot, Zufim, Kedumim, Rosh Zurim, Revava, Shadmot Mechola, Sha�arei Tikva and Tekoa.

Although he spoke of 29 violations, he listed Givat Ze�ev twice.

Peace Now added that it believed the settlements of Elazar, Kochav Hashahar, Nili, Kiryat Arba and Kfar Tapuach were also ignoring the moratorium.

The moratorium allows work to continue on 3,000 Jewish homes in the West Bank that had foundations in place at the end of November.

The moratorium requires that work be halted on all homes that lacked a foundation.

The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip denounced the Peace Now report.

It charged that Peace Now, like other organizations funded from abroad, was part of an organized campaign of lies and half truths designed to harm both the state of Israel and the settlement movement.

�We�re talking about people who have never planted a tree, or built a home, but who are placing a stick in the wheels of the Zionist enterprise,� the council said in a statement it released to the media.

It noted with satisfaction the fact that the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria reached 320,000 in 2009, a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year.