Tuesday, April 28
Latest News
  1. Kerry: US defense commitment to Japan 'ironclad', includes Senkakus
  2. Kerry unveils $10 mln in Nepal quake aid
  3. Government: Nepal quake death toll passes 4,000
  4. Bahrain again extends top rights activist's detention
  5. Kerry to meet Iran FM Zarif on Monday
  6. Dozens of Iraqi police killed during fierce clashes in Ramadi
  7. First Saudi National Guards reach Yemen border zone
  8. Israel charges soldiers over looting during Gaza war
  9. Israel invites bids for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes
  10. Deutsche Bank Q1 profits fall 50% over $2.5 bn rate fixing fine
  11. Witnesses: 2 protestors shot dead in Burundi capital
  12. Small groups of protestors, police clash in Burundi capital
  13. Clashes rage in Yemen as calls for peace talks grow
  14. EU AgenPolice arrest 26 across Europe in horsemeat scandal
  15. US: Russia failing to fully implement Ukraine ceasefire
  16. Kerry urges Yemen rebels and their allies to enter talks
  17. Ex-Yemen leader urges rebel allies to heed UN, pull back
  18. Iraq lacks DNA results to test body of 'Saddam deputy'
  19. Family: Syria's sacked political spy chief dead
  20. Officials: 14 Somali, Afghan immigrants killed by train in Macedonia

Israel housing minister says settlement freeze in place

June 18, 2013 7:18 P.M. (Updated: June 20, 2013 8:48 P.M.)
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.

Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015