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Settlers accuse Israel of ‘de facto’ freeze

JERUSALEM | Jewish settler leaders accused the Israeli government Tuesday of enforcing an unofficial freeze on the construction of public housing in the occupied West Bank.

At a meeting of a parliamentary lobby group, Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council of settlers, said work on an estimated 4,000 government-funded housing units had been held up because Defense Minister Ehud Barak had not signed off on the financing.

“The construction of more than 4,000 homes in the West Bank could begin immediately if the defense minister would sign off on the tenders,” he told members of the Greater Israel lobby group.

“The government respected its decision to freeze construction for 10 months, and it is time to respect its promises and authorize new projects in Judaea and Samaria,” he said, using the biblical terms for the southern and northern West Bank.

Israel imposed a 10-month moratorium on West Bank building that expired at the end of September, bringing newly started peace talks with the Palestinians to a halt.

Israel has refused to reimpose the moratorium, while the Palestinians say they will not hold talks while settlers are building on Palestinian land.

ISRAEL

Stone-throwing children under house arrest

JERUSALEM | Israeli police said Tuesday they would begin imposing house arrest on stone-throwing youths in East Jerusalem and hold their parents legally responsible for their actions.

“The police will bring the situation of children throwing stones at the police and at Jewish cars under control with court orders imposing strict house arrest on these children,” police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby told Agence France-Presse.

The new measures are aimed at the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where Palestinian children and teenagers repeatedly have clashed with police and Jewish settler guards in recent weeks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports