Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday honored a promise he made to the Obama Administration to curb the right of Jews to build homes in Judea, Samaria and on the eastern side of Jerusalem.
Washington is engaged in yet another push to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and Netanyahu pledged to halt all Jewish housing projects until June to give those efforts a chance.
It should be noted that what has been halted is Jewish construction inside existing Jewish settlements, which is not prohibited by any signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Some argue that by making such gestures, even when the various interim agreements don't call for it, weakens the Jewish people's historical claim to these lands.
The settlement freeze will be among the first major challenges facing the stability of Netanyahu's new coalition. The right-wing Jewish Home Party, which controls the Housing Ministry, has threatened to vote against the new national budget if the prime minister goes forward with the freeze.
Many members of Netanyahu's own Likud Party also disagree with such moves. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said last week that Israel remains determined to build in Judea and Samaria and protect the hundreds of thousands of Jews already living there.
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