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Israel housing minister says settlement freeze in place
Published Tuesday 18/06/2013 (updated) 20/06/2013 08:48
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Laborers work at a housing construction site in the settlement of Har
Homa in East Jerusalem. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Tuesday implied that a silent freeze on new housing projects in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been in place since the beginning of 2013.

Ariel's remarks to army radio come a day after his party leader Naftali Bennett declared that the idea of a Palestinian state had reached a "dead end" and called to "build, and build, and build" in the West Bank.

Bennett's remarks drew harsh condemnation from Palestinians and forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reiterate his support for the two-state solution.

When confronted by army radio to the fact it did not seem like the policy of this government was indeed "to build", pro-settlement Ariel acknowledged that "there's a certain difficulty here, we're acting to change it".

"In Jerusalem since the beginning of the year there have been no marketings (of new housing projects) at all, except for one (in west Jerusalem), the same to Judea and Samaria," the biblical name for the West Bank.

Pressed further by army radio whether it would be right to say he acknowledged there's a construction freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Ariel replied: "Let's say that's not entirely off mark."

A freeze on settlement construction is one of the PLO's demands of Israel for a return to direct peace talks, which broke off in late September 2010.

Israel has said it is ready for an immediate resumption of talks, but insists it will only talk if there are no such pre-conditions.

Last month, Israeli media had reported that Netanyahu had ordered a freeze on tenders for new settlers homes. While Ariel had refused to comment, settlement watchdog Peace Now confirmed there had not been any tenders published since the start of the year.
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1 ) AKeenReader / UK
18/06/2013 19:54
Don't trust any words they say because they lie every single day. One day some members of Israeli govt tell the world that two state solution is over and the next it's on and that settlement freeeze has been taking place since the new year. Enough lies have been told so just ignore any word coming out their mouths. Go to the ICC and then only the Israeli's will listen. Even US wouldn't be able to help them.

2 ) diego / usa
18/06/2013 21:53
Thats rite, they lie, every government lies. the status quo is much better isnt it?

3 ) Rami / Palestine
19/06/2013 11:53
Nonesense. I drive my Ofer Settlement followed by Beit El EVERYDAY and there is settlement construction going on right this very minute.

4 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
19/06/2013 19:02
Everyone PAY attention to @ 3) because HE'S RIGHT. Attention: All outsiders (translation: those who don't live here): When our government speaks of a settlement "freeze" or "moratorium" on building tenders this only means a temporary absence of such activities. Now, to "help" everyone understand something--not that it's a big secret or anything (it isn't)--but to let everyone know in case you haven't figured it out yet: Whenever our military news media is doing any news-gathering, (cont.)

5 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
19/06/2013 19:16
our government--even more so than other governments--is even more careful not only what it says but how it says it. Further translation: NOBODY in our government is going to say a damn thing that would be at odds with the IDF. This is not to state the obvious but to emphasize if the IDF has a "disagreement" with our government nobody in our government is going to get a damn thing known about it from our military news media. So unlike the "piss" negotiations, the building tenders keep going.

6 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
19/06/2013 22:04
Rami, it's exactly like the Palestinians saying there is a freeze on violence. Every Israeli knows that is a lie and Palestinians are carrying out tens of attacks every single day - firebombings, rocks, IEDs, and dozens of rockets during the "ceasefire". We don't care for your lies and you don't care for ours. Will leaders of both sides sit down and sign a peace treaty? The facts are there: Israel made peace with Egypt and gave over Sinai. We pulled out of Gaza. Next step is peace talks.

7 ) gabi / australia
21/06/2013 03:45
Brian Cohen - "Next step is peace talks"? Well, by peace talks you really mean, give us all the land and then we'll give you peace. You should read Yehuda Solomon more - he seems to know more about what the Israeli govt. does or plans to do than any Israeli-apologist posting here.
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