12 août 2009, par
The left-wing Peace Now organization claims that construction works are being carried out to expand the settlement of Kochav Yaakov, located north of Jerusalem, eastward.
A neighborhood with some 15 caravans has reportedly been established as part of the construction works. According to Peace Now, some of the caravans have already been connected to the water and sewage infrastructures, and a children’s playground has been set up in the area.
The left-wing group said in a statement that "according to information we have obtained, originating in the Civil Administration – and we mean aerial photographs – the expansion in the construction is being carried out without an authorized building plan and on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of the village of Akab."
According to Peace Now, the construction works are being conducted at a very fast rate.
After obtaining the information, the organization appealed to the Civil Administration, demanding that it order a halt to the construction works and an evacuation of the illegal buildings.
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer told Ynet, "While the Hilltop Youth are building tiny outposts out of spite, the settler leaders continue their extensive illegal activity, for expansion purposes."
Oppenheimer called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to work to halt the construction, and even threatened to petition the High Court of Justice. "Barak must stop turning a blind eye to the criminal activity of settler leaders, and stop the construction before we are forced to turn to the High Court," he said.
The Civil Administration said after looking into the matter that the establishment of the caravan neighborhood was within the bounds of illegal construction. According to officials, several days ago the Civil Administration issued orders against the construction in the area. The officials added that the issue was being enforced by the Civil Administration.
Avi Roeh, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, which Kochav Yaakov is part of, said that "the caravans were placed with permission and authorization within the community," but refused to provide additional details.
A series of senior Coalition members urged the government this week to continue building in settlements, despite the American criticism. Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kasriel toured the area connecting Jerusalem and the city of Ma’aleh Adumim with a clear message : Construction in this area must continue.
"At a certain stage we will have to build, even if we fail to convince the Americans, at least in the settlement blocs," said Minister Yishai.
The mayor spoke strongly against the American demand to halt the construction. "We have human problems which must be solved through the construction," he said. "Our children have grown up, they’re getting married, starting a family, and want to live where they were born. These human issues are not been solved due to the American pressure for a complete construction freeze."