Israeli DM Amends Construction Ban Orders

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved amended orders on the government's construction freeze in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

The updated orders reinstate some of the authority removed from local and regional council heads at the start of the 10-month moratorium in November.

Local leaders will again be able to issue construction permits for additions and renovations to existing homes. Authority to plan and review new construction permits has also been restored, though construction won't be started until the moratorium ends. The new orders also reinstate authority to issue permits for changes to buildings under construction.

Barak agreed to the changes following meetings with a government committee formed to address grievances related to the construction ban.

Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi, chief of the IDF's Central Command, signed the amended orders.

Some regional leaders said the reissued orders were illusory, addressing only cosmetic changes without altering the government's intent to penalize Jewish residents of these communities.

According to David Ha'Ivri, executive director of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council, the amendments affirm the illegality of some aspects of the construction freeze. Ha'Ivri said he hoped the government would expand on the changes.

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The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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