Settler advocates say silent freeze placed on W. Bank

A “silent freeze” has been placed on West Bank settlement expansion, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said.

Danon, a Likud Knesset member who advocates Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank, told the Times of Israel that no new tenders have been approved in recent months for building in Israeli West Bank settlements.

“I don’t know of a formal policy to limit building,” Danon told the Times of Israel on May 19. “But when you look, de facto, what’s happening on the ground, yes, you feel there is a silent freeze in terms of planning and in terms of government construction.”

Dani Dayan, chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council, a settlement advocacy group, claimed that the committee to approve new building in the settlements had not met for three months, though previously approved construction is ongoing.

Previously approved tenders for new settlement housing were republished at the end of April.

Peace Now, an activist group that opposes the settlements, said the new building committee had met within the past three months. Hagit Ofran, the group’s settlement watch project director, called talk of a freeze “premature.” — jta