|Construction vehicles work as the building of a housing project resumes in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel, Sept. 27, 2010. The moratorium on Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, declared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last November, expired at midnight on Sunday. (Xinhua/Yin Dongxun)|
by Dave Bender
JERUSALEM, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Bulldozers roared into life in the northern West Bank Jewish community of Ariel Monday morning, eight hours after a 10-month-old self-imposed building freeze deadline expired.
Crews began work on more than 50 new housing units, which are slated to house families expelled from Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Officials said work plans are expected to commence on Tuesday at another dozen settlements as well.
Between Jerusalem and Hebron, construction will not begin in earnest until after the week-long Succot holiday concludes, according to Shaul Goldstein, the head of Gush Etzion Regional Council, speaking with Israel Army Radio.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, in a statement released at midnight, called on Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas to "continue the sincere and good talks that have just begun, with the goal of reaching a historic peace agreement between our two peoples."
"I hope that President Abbas will remain in the talks and continue with me on the path of peace which we started three weeks ago, after many in the world have now realized that my intentions of reaching peace are serious and sincere and that I honor my commitments," Netanyahu said, according to the statement.
Netanyahu in recent days has held telephone discussions with U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton twice, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II in an apparent effort to show talks with the PNA still alive.
But settlement movement leaders warned that they plan to turn up the heat on Netanyahu.
Settler groups are planning a hunger strike by community leaders, among other measures in case the construction moratorium in the West Bank is extended, Shomron Settlers' Committee head Benny Katzover told local news service Ynet Sunday evening.