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Monday March 1, 2010 4:10 PM (EST+7)
Israel high court criticizes government over settlement construction

Read more: settlements, settlement construction, settlers, Noqedim, Kiryat Netafim

RAMALLAH,  Mar. 1 (JMCC) - Israel's Supreme Court criticised the State for failing to prevent continued construction in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim, despite previous court orders.

The Court's statement, delivered Monday, came in response to a claim filed by Israel's Peace Now organization, which says that the residents of Kiryat Netafim have ignored court orders issued in August 2009 and are continuing to build at the speed of light.

The High Court issued an intermediary warning against the settlement several months ago for construction without permits on public and private Palestinian land, but residents have repeatedly violated the order and are in the process of building 15 permanent structures. The High Court lambasted the State for failing to taking any meaningful action against the residents.

In the middle of February, the Israeli Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that there was construction under way in 29 settlements in the West Bank, despite the moratorium on construction.

According to Peace Now, there is construction going on in at least five more settlements in addition to the Defense Ministry's list. Work generally commences on Saturdays, when Israeli Civil Administration inspectors are off duty.

Violations of the freeze were even recorded in the settlement of Noqedim, where Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has his home.

The statement from the Defense Ministry confirms Palestinian allegations that the 10-month moratorium instituted by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was merely a political ploy to assuage international pressure against Israel's settlement enterprise.

Construction in Israel's settlements, considered illegal under international law, has largely gone on unabated.

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