Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will approve hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements before slowing construction activities, two of his aides said Friday. According to the AP, the aides conveyed the Israeli leader would be willing to consider a temporary freeze in settlement construction, but this would include building the new units and finishing some 2,500 others currently under construction.
The settlement freeze will not include occupied east Jerusalem.
Kurt Hoyer, spokesman for the American embassy in Tel Aviv, reacted by saying Washington would be unlikely to accept anything "contrary to the spirit of negotiations they've been undertaking" and added it was "doubtful" the U.S. had signed off on the Israeli decision. "I think the only thing that will be suspended by this announcement is the peace process," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
In the next few days, the Netanyahu aides said, the Israeli PM will approve the construction of hundreds of new apartments in the West Bank.
In exchange for a suspension, Netanyahu would expect the Arab world to take steps toward normalizing ties with Israel, the aides added.