Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

West Bank settler leader Pinhas Wallerstein resigns

Pinhas Wallerstein - 2004
Pinhas Wallerstein served on the main settler council for more than 30 years

A veteran Israeli settler leader in the West Bank has resigned, saying that his fellow leaders are not doing enough to distance themselves from extremists.

Pinhas Wallerstein has joined other settlers in opposing the government's limited freeze on new settlements.

But he has been unhappy with the more extreme tactics used by some settlers to oppose the policy.

He said he believed the Israeli government was too cautious in its handling of extremists.

Mr Wallerstein served on the Yesha Council, the main body representing Jewish Settlers, for more than 30 years.

'Price tag' condemned

In his resignation letter as secretary general of the Yesha Council, Mr Wallerstein condemned the organisation's failure to condemn the "price tag" policy employed by some settlers.

Under the policy, settlers attack Palestinian villages when the government takes action against Jewish settlements.

He also criticised the council for failing to condemn soldiers who refuse to carry out government orders to evacuate unauthorised settlements

In October, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a 10-month moratorium on new housing projects in the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem.

Palestinians have been insisting on a total freeze in settlement building before they will restart peace negotiations.

Settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

About half a million Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

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