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Official Request to Freeze New West Bank Settlements Rejected by Settlers

Jewish settlers in the West Bank have rejected an official request to freeze new settlements in the territory for economic reasons. Otniel Schneller, secretary of the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judaea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, warned yesterday that if the government fails to carry out an earlier decision to establish six new settlements, the settlers will do it themselves.

Schneller flatly rejected a request by Nissim Zvilli, head of the World Zionist Organization’s settlement department, that new settlement activity be held in abeyance because of the economic crisis. His request was supported by Yacov Tsur, Minister of Absorption.

Tsur called for a freeze on settlements for economic reasons and because, he said, there is no national consensus that they are necessary. He charged that some Cabinet ministers used the settlements issue as a political tool without consideration of the real needs of the territories.