Netanyahu: Settlement freeze only temporary

Published December 6th, 2009 - 02:58 GMT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted Sunday that Israel would resume settlement construction in the occupied West Bank when the ten-month settlement freeze period ends.

Speaking during his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu sought to ease the fears of settler leaders who have threatened to expand protests over the settlement freeze.  “We made it clear that upon the conclusion of the period of suspension, construction will resume,” Netanyahu said.

“This is a one-time and temporary decision, not a freeze of unlimited and infinite duration.” Addressing a Likud ministers’ meeting before his cabinet meeting, Netanyahu called on Ministers and settlement leaders to respect the settlement freeze.

“Even if [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen will come in eight months and say, ‘Peace now,’ we will begin building as we did before. The cabinet decision is time-limited,” Netanyahu said.

Israel launched a ten-month settlement freeze in the face of mounting U.S. pressure from in hopes that it could lead to the resumption of peace with the Palestinians. Palestinians have since called Israel’s overtures dishonest because it excluded east Jerusalem and 3,000 homes currently under construction in the West Bank.

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