Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday tried to drum up international pressure on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table by warning that Israel's current settlement freeze is only temporary and won't be repeated.
Government inspectors began handing out stop-work orders at construction sites in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria on Monday in line with Netanyahu's decision last week to comply with international demands that Israel stop building homes for Jews in areas claimed by the Palestinians.
But while addressing an economics conference near Ben Gurion Airport, Netanyahu insisted that the 10-month time limit on the freeze is firm, and that he will never make such a gesture again if the Palestinians do not respond in a positive manner.
"This is a one-time and temporary decision," Netanyahu said. "Just as was written in the security cabinet decision, and just as I have made clear in both public and private meetings, we will go back to building at the end of the suspension."
But as most observers of the Middle East conflict know, once Israel makes a concession, international pressure makes it very hard to go back on it. Israel's current settlement freeze is likely to become a new red line for the Palestinians, and most Palestinian red lines have been happily accepted by the world.
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