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Rumors on settlement freeze add up to status quo

Aug. 19, 2009 4:01 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 21, 2009 9:47 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Whether or not Israel has agreed a limited “settlement freeze,” the terms so far made public fail to comply with Israel’s obligation to implement a comprehensive and immediate freeze on all settlement activities as stipulated in the 2001 Mitchell Report and the 2003 Road Map, the PLO Negotiations Affairs department said Wednesday.

One rumored version of Israel’s limited agreement with the United States on that country’s proposed settlement construction freeze, is a “no new tenders / building permits” formula that would see already planned construction go ahead with no additional plans to be okayed during an unspecified period.

Only one day after officials leaked information around an agreed limited settlement freeze Haaretz’ business supplement, The Marker, said the Israeli department of government properties is expected to invite tenders for a bid to build 450 residential units in Pisgat Ze’ev, a neighborhood on the Palestinian side of the 1967 borders in internationally recognized East Jerusalem.

The magazine’s Wednesday edition said the department was relaxing some of its earlier requirements for bid so the project can get going in the next six months.

Raising further concerns over the alleged limited freeze, the Palestine Liberation Organization's Negotiations Affairs Department noted the plan would allow “Israel (or other parties) to act upon existing tenders or building permits already issued by Israeli authorities.”

A report released by the office Wednesday noted “Israel has often used the pretext that such activities are being pursued by private parties and, therefore, ‘out of the hands’ of the Israeli government. In reality, however, under Israeli administrative and contract laws, the executive branch has the power to release itself from such contractual agreements when their fulfillment is inconsistent with the public interest.”

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