Netanyahu: Settlement freeze does not include Jerusalem

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with visiting US envoy George Mitchell on Tuesday in what was described as a "last ditch" effort by the American to convince Israel to implement a full settlement freeze.

The Obama Administration hopes to coordinate a three-way meeting with Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of next week's UN General Assembly.

But a day earlier, Netanyahu told the Knesset that he will not agree to US and Arab demands for a full settlement freeze. In particular, Netanyahu said that the limited freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria that he has proposed does not include those parts of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians.

Netanyahu reiterated to Mitchell that what he is ready to do is halt approval for all new construction in Judea and Samaria, excluding Jerusalem, for a period of six months. Some 2,500 housing units on which construction has already begun will be completed.

Netanyahu sees the limited freeze as a test case to determine if the Palestinians are finally ready to honor their peace commitments.

But ahead of his own meeting with Mitchell on Tuesday, Abbas declared that he would only meet with Netanyahu if the latter agreed to a total and permanent halt to the building of Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

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