News / Middle East

    Israeli Radio: Netanyahu Freezes New Settlement Construction

    Israeli settlers play next to Israeli border police in Tapuah junction, near the West Bank city of Nablus, April 30, 2013.
    Israeli settlers play next to Israeli border police in Tapuah junction, near the West Bank city of Nablus, April 30, 2013.
    VOA News
    Israel's Army Radio says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stopped approving new construction in West Bank settlements in what may be a bid to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.

    There was no confirmation of the settlement freeze from the office of Netanyahu, who was in Shanghai on Tuesday as part of an official visit to China. The Army Radio report said the Israeli prime minister ordered the freeze in a meeting with his housing minister before departing on his trip.

    Israel's Housing Minister Uri Ariel declined to confirm the report.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was in China this week on a separate visit, has long refused to restart negotiations with Israel until it stops all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians claim those areas for their proposed independent state.

    If the settlement freeze is confirmed, it would coincide with a new effort by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by holding regular meetings with the leaders of both sides.

    The Israeli anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now said the government has not issued new tenders for West Bank housing for several months. It said previously-approved construction projects have continued.

    It is not clear if the apparent freeze also applies to Jewish districts of East Jerusalem, which Israel claims as part of its capital.

    As Netanyahu prepared to fly to Beijing Wednesday for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Palestinian President Abbas left the Chinese capital Tuesday, after meeting  Xi the previous day.

    The simultaneous visits to China by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders reflected Beijing's desire for a more prominent role in Mideast peace efforts.

    China's official Xinhua news agency said  Xi told Abbas that Israel and the Palestinians should "show mutual understanding and accommodation and meet each other half way."

    It said the Chinese president believes negotiations should lead to an independent Palestinian state and full respect for what he called Israel's legitimate security concerns and right to exist.

    Speaking Monday, Abbas reiterated that he is willing to meet Netanyahu provided the Israeli leader accepts a Palestinian state based on pre-war boundaries of 1967. Israel repeatedly has said it is ready to negotiate without such preconditions.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ralph Haglund from: Sweden
    May 07, 2013 4:06 PM
    Netanyahu needs a lawyer, not a lot of beautiful words! He has to start in the right end, like telling Abbas that as long as his Constitution says

    Article (12) Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.

    Article (19) Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated.

    it is useless to discuss anything else.

    by: Ahl al Sunnah from: Syria
    May 07, 2013 3:31 PM
    May God Bless you Israel... Ya ahl al kitab may God bless you beautiful angels of fire power and retribution. Let the world see what Bashar the shrmuta is doing to our children in Hama - look we put all in you tube - you can't say you did not know... look.
    shame on "king" abdullah shame you brought us only shame and disgrace may Allah punish you.

    by: Tamer from: Maryland
    May 07, 2013 12:54 PM
    Bibi wants to start peace talks? Hey, VOA, wanna buy a bridge?

    by: Amy Strouse from: UK
    May 07, 2013 11:45 AM
    my god... the Israelis are such naturally beautiful people!!!

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