Israeli settlement construction will be halted, says Interior Minister
Prime Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday that Israel would halt settlement construction in the West Bank, a move he said would ease tensions and allow the Palestinians to pursue a final peace deal.
Liberman’s comments come a day after he told a joint session of the Knesset that Israeli settlement activity would be halted.
“We are ready to resume construction,” Liberman told the Kishon Yaakov, an Israeli news channel.
“In principle, I think we have a possibility to resume the construction of some settlements.
But this can only happen if the Palestinians and the Israelis agree to do so.”
Liberman made the comments after the Kippur War Memorial Association in Jerusalem, which supports Palestinian refugees, held a meeting with his office.
The association is affiliated with the settler-led government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Libermans office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, also spoke out against the government’s move.
“Liberman has always been a supporter of settlement building,” Erekah said.
“He has never allowed the construction to go ahead, and has done so in an irresponsible way.
We have not yet seen any reason to change his position.”
Libermans decision follows a series of diplomatic setbacks for Israel.
In May, a senior official in the Israeli Defense Forces said that a military plan to evict the illegal Israeli settlements of Har Adar, Givat Hamatos and Beit El, which were built on land previously seized by Palestinians, would not take place in the near future.
On Monday, Liberman announced a three-month moratorium on construction.
That followed a three month suspension on construction in June.
Israeli officials said at the time that Liberman had not been consulted on the decision, and that he had only been told of it after the Palestinian Authority issued a statement saying that the government had halted construction in an effort to pressure the Palestinian leadership.
The PA has said that Libermans position on the matter is an attempt to “impose a double standard.”