Israel insists there is no building freeze in Jerusalem

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Monday rejected reports that there is a Jewish building freeze in parts of Jerusalem as a result of American pressure.

"The municipality will continue to promote construction throughout all parts of the city, for Jews and Arabs alike," Barkat said in a statement.

Barkat released the statement after weekend reports suggested Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to officially freeze the controversial construction project in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, which the Palestinians claim as part of their future capital.

"We trust that the prime minister will not allow a freeze to take hold in Jerusalem. Not in words and not in deeds," said Barkat.

Netanyahu later clarified that he had not offered the Americans a building freeze, but had rather explained to them that the Ramat Shlomo project was not scheduled to enter the construction phase for another two years, so should not hinder efforts to restart peace negotiations now.

"When the Americans asked us to estimate when construction will begin, I said that I don’t believe it will begin before the two-year period ends," Netanyahu told members of his Likud faction. He said he did not know why that information was interpreted by the Americans as a commitment to halt Jewish construction.

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