Israel announces 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements
The Israeli security cabinet approved on Wednesday a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, in an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians. The halt does not include East Jerusalem as demanded by the Palestinians.
Shortly before the cabinet session, Netanyahu stated the freeze would prove that Israel genuinely seeks to reach peace with the Palestinians. "In the international circumstances that have been created, this step will advance Israel's broad international interests. This is not a simple step, nor an easy one; but it has many more advantages than disadvantages," Netanyahu told his aides, according to Haaretz.
Netanyahu added: "It will enable us to show the world this simple truth: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps to enter into negotiations and is very serious in its intention to advance peace."
Halt of settlement building has been a key demand by the U.S. administration.