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Israeli Officials Reportedly Freeze Settlement Construction

Israeli officials reportedly have agreed to freeze construction in the West Bank until the beginning of 2010.

JTA first reported the unofficial freeze on July 6.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Housing Minister Ariel Atias have agreed to a moratorium on building in the settlements in order to give the peace process a chance to move forward, several news outlets reported this week.

“Since the government was established five months ago, no tenders have been issued for Judea and Samaria,” Atias told Israel Radio on Tuesday, echoing what officials told JTA in early July. “The fact is, we are in a holding pattern; an attempt, I believe, to reach an understanding with the U.S. administration and a comprehensive peace agreement.”

Netanyahu’s office has not confirmed the freeze.

The freeze reportedly includes eastern Jerusalem, according to the French news agency AFP, but Peace Now told Reuters that the building of more than 1,000 previously approved housing units is continuing.

The United States has called on Israel to halt all construction in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that the Palestinians will not agree to resume peace talks until all settlement-building activities cease.

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