The FINANCIAL — TEL AVIV. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear on September 12 that he is willing to the limit construction of settlements in the West Bank, but not completely stop it, RIA Novosti informs.
Tel Aviv's building moratorium is due to end September 26. The Palestinian leadership has threatened to quit peace talks with Israel that resumed in early September if it is not prolonged.
Direct talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu resumed on September 2 in Washington, after an almost two-year hiatus, with the two leaders expressing their readiness to search for a compromise.
The sides agreed to direct talks in late August after the United States and other members of the Middle East Quartet of mediators (the UN, EU and Russia) promoted the initiative.
The New York Times quoted Netanyahu as saying at Sunday's meeting with the Quartet's envoy Tony Blair that the Palestinians want "zero building in Judea and Samaria [West Bank], and that will not happen. Israel cannot continue the freeze."
Attempts to extend the moratorium could result in difficult relations for Netanyahu with his partners in the ruling coalition. But the premier made clear that certain restrictions on settlement construction could be retained.
"We will not build all the tens of thousands of housing units that are waiting in the planning pipeline," he was quoted as saying according to a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.