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Proposal: Limited Construction During Talks

PM Netanyahu considers limiting Judea and Samaria construction to fewer buildings than were built during Olmert-Abbas negotiations.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/1/2010, 11:45 AM / Last Update: 10/1/2010, 12:11 PM

Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering a new proposal that would limit construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria if negotiations with the Palestinian Authority continue. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to end talks over Judea and Samaria construction.

The proposal would limit construction to 1,200 new housing units over the next year. While Abbas negotiated with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, 1,500 housing units were built in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

The suggested gesture to the PA was reported Friday morning in the freebie Hebrew daily paper Yisrael Hayom, said to be aligned with Netanyahu..

Israel would also renew a commitment first made by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon according to which Israel will not allow the construction of new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and will not add land to existing cities and towns.

In addition, Israel would offer other concessions, such as removing more Judea and Samaria checkpoints, in addition to the dozens taken down in recent years as “good-will gestures.” The removal of checkpoints despite continuing attacks by PA terrorists has angered many Israelis, particularly following a recent terrorist shooting near Hevron in which four Israelis were murdered, including a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy.

A senior diplomatic source told the newspaper that construction of homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria was not truly an obstacle to talks. “The Palestinians understand that we can't renew the freeze, but they aren't willing to admit the truth – that construction has been limited, and as such, does not get in the way of talks.”

“We've been building for 43 years, and in that time, we've used only two percent of the territory,” he continued. “So it's obvious that building doesn't change things when it comes to reaching a permanent agreement.” Israel is currently trying to reach an agreement with the PA and the U.S. that will allow for talks to continue, he said.