Netanyahu Announces 10 Months Settlement Freeze
Thursday November 26, 2009 08:46 by Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Netanyahu, Cabinet, Settlements
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his government has decided on a 10-month freeze of construction in West Bank settlements,
The temporary 10 months freeze will not include settlements inside Jerusalem city or 3,000 homes under construction in West Bank settlements
Washington welcomed Netanyahu's announcement and called it a significant move. The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the U.S administration demanded earlier this year a freeze of settlements before peace talks could be resumed.
Issa Qaraqi, the Palestinian Minster of political detainees and ex-detainees told IMEMC that Palestinians demand a total freeze:
"This announcement is deceptive and just for show, the Palestinian position is clear, we refuse to negotiate while settlements continue to exist. Furthermore what does this freeze means???...It's just to drive us back to negotiations without reaching an agreement on ending the conflict." Qaraqi told IMEMC via phone.
Netanyahu told reporters today that his announcement proves that Israel is trying to reach peace with the Palestinians.
In a press conference, Netanyahu said that his government will resume the construction in the West Bank after the freeze period ends. He vowed that his government would allow 300.000 settlers to carry a normal life, and added that the ongoing construction in West Bank settlement will not be part of the freeze as he considered it ‘natural growth’.
The Palestinian Authority said that the vote is not acceptable as any freeze of settlement activities must include occupied East Jerusalem, the capital of the future Palestinian State.
East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967, and was annexed shortly afterwards.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said that the Palestinians want a full settlement freeze so that the peace process can resume.
There are 470, 000 Israeli settlers living in settlements covering 40% of the West Bank including Jerusalem. According to international law all Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal.
Palestinian chief negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, said that the Israeli vote and the proposal of Netanyahu has nothing new in it, as Israel already approved the construction of 3000 units for Jewish settlers.