Settlers vow more construction in lieu of sovereignty

‘If there is no sovereignty, at least construction’ is the new slogan of the Yesha Council

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Leaders of the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria are demanding the government resume work to push through new construction projects that were frozen during the lead-up since February, Makor Rishon reported Friday.

The settlement heads are still licking their wounds after the promise by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apply Israeli sovereignty to settlements beginning July 1 was abruptly canceled, apparently in order to close the peace deal with the United Arab Emirates, which President Donald Trump announced last month.

The chairman of the Yesha Council of settlements said the peace deal with the UAE was a short-term diversion that would not bear the fruit, political leaders were claiming.

“I refuse to participate in Abu Dhabi’s euphoria,” David Elhayani said. “I am a graduate of the agreement with Jordan.”

“There, too, was an atmosphere of the days of Messiah, and we all know how it ended. I refuse to participate in a game that only serves the Americans,” Elhayani said, referring to the peace treaty with Jordan. At the beginning it was warm, but it has since degenerated into a “cold peace” with Jordanian legislators often calling for Jordan to cancel the deal.

Elhayani slammed Israeli politicians for embracing the Trump plan, which includes the establishment of a Palestinian state, calling it “an existential danger to the State of Israel.”

With sovereignty now off the agenda, settler leaders are pushing for the renewal of construction they say has been frozen since details of the Trump peace process were announced in February. Officials say the planning board that regulates building in Judea and Samaria has not convened since February, with the approval of about 5,500 housing units still pending.

“There is no sovereignty, there is a freeze” is the headline of the Yesha settler’s council new information campaign, which warns that “the settlement window may close in two months” after the U.S. elections, if Trump is defeated by Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

The Land of Israel lobby in the Knesset recently re-convened with MKs Haim Katz of Likud and Bezalel Smotrich of Yamina, pushing the position that “no political process of any kind justifies a construction freeze.”

The two are expected to press Netanyahu to fulfill previous commitments to green-light new construction, notwithstanding sovereignty being put on hold.

Settler leaders are concerned that a Trump loss in the November election could mean they have only a two-month window to get projects approved.

“It is in Netanyahu’s hands,” said Eliyahu Atia from the settlement of Mevo’ot Yericho in the Jordan Valley.

Atia pointed out that despite threats that construction approval would cause international protests, that has not happened.

“There is no room for delay, we must not leave any Jewish settlement behind,” Katz said. “The Planning Council must be convened urgently, and the construction and development of the settlements must continue.”