Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has quietly suspended the issuing of bids for new settlement construction, according to a watchdog group, in an apparent gesture to Secretary of State John Kerry as he works to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Peace Now said in a statement that it had recorded no announcements or approvals of plans for new construction since President Obama’s visit in March. Still, the group noted, there has been no slowing of construction that was already under way.
Israel’s Army Radio reported Tuesday that Mr. Netanyahu recently instructed his minister of housing and construction, Uri Ariel of the pro-settlement Jewish Home Party, to freeze new building in the West Bank. The newspaper Haaretz said that Mr. Netanyahu promised Mr. Kerry to rein in settlement plans until mid-June.
The prime minister’s office had no comment on the reports.
For more on this story, visit: Israel Halts Settlement Plans for Now, Group Says – NYTimes.com.