Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu on Sunday said that the ten-months moratorium on
construction activities in the West Bank is "temporary", a
decision seen as an attempt to allay fears of settler leaders
who have threatened to expand their protests against the move.
Succumbing to pressures from the settler community,
Netanyahu said that the moratorium on construction activities
would be called off irrespective of the progress made on the
renewal of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"Even if Abu Mazen (nom de guerre for PA President
Mahmoud Abbas) will come in eight months and say, `Peace now,`
we will begin building as we did before. The cabinet decision
is time-limited," Netanyahu told his Likud Party`s ministers
before the weekly cabinet meeting today.
The Israeli premier reiterated the remarks later at
the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
"I would like to clarify that the suspension is for a
limited amount of time and not longer," he said, adding "This
is a one-time and temporary decision, not an endless and
The hawkish Israeli leader also addressed his cabinet
colleagues for refusing to allot inspectors to enforce the
"We must work together. Our internal unity is the most
important thing. I seek the ministers` cooperation in carrying
out the decision and adopting it in the easiest way in order
to maintain law and order," the premier heading an
overwhelming right-wing coalition pleaded.
Netanyahu called on the settlers to practice
restraint, stressing that the move would help Israel at the
"The decision is certainly not easy for the heads of
the communities in Judea and Samaria and for us," the premier
said, adding "These are parts of our homeland, and these are
our brothers. They are part of us and we are part of them".
"The decision stems from many of the State of Israel`s
interests. Today it is also clear who wants peace and who
refuses peace. The State of Israel wants peace. The matter has
been clarified in the cabinet decision, but it also creates
difficulties," he further added in an indirect reference to
He, however, clarified that despite the strict
enforcement of the decision`s implementation, the building
activities already in motion would continue without any
The Palestinians say that Israel`s offer is not
genuine since it does not include East Jerusalem, which they
want as the capital of a future state, or 3,000 housing units
Israel agreed to the moratorium amid pressure from
Washington, in the hope this would help kick-start peace talks
that were suspended during the Gaza war at the turn of the
However, the PA has refused to resume talks until
Israel halts all construction despite calls from the US to
soften their demand.