Peace Now Says Israel Showing Restraint in Settlement Building
Peace Now, which monitors Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government hasn’t issued any tenders or approved any additional building plans.
“It’s not a freeze, but restraint,” Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran said in a phone interview. Netanayhu’s new government was formed in March.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said a halt in settlement building is a condition for him to resume peace talks with Israel, which the U.S. is seeking to revive. Negotiations stalled in 2010 after Netanyahu declined to extend a 10-month construction freeze in the West Bank.
Netanyahu promised the U.S. to curb planning and construction in the West Bank until mid-June, Haaretz newspaper reported today, citing unidentified senior Israeli officials.
Israel Army Radio said Netanyahu told Housing Minister Uri Ariel to freeze the West Bank tenders. Ariel, interviewed by the radio, declined to comment on the report, though he said he would insist that the budget allots money for such construction.
Ofran said about 2,000 housing units are being built in West Bank settlements and about 500 in East Jerusalem, a part of the city that the Palestinians seek as the capital of their state.
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