Netanyahu: Second Freeze to be More Strict
The second Judea and Samaria building freeze pushed by the United States will be stricter than the first, in that it will include a ban on completing construction projects that are already underway, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed Sunday.
Netanyahu unveiled details of the potential second freeze in a meeting with Likud MKs. He said the ban on finishing projects is “the only major downside in this deal.”
The prime minister told the MKs that he plans to ask U.S. officials for three things in exchange for the freeze: a promise not to demand a third construction freeze, an American veto on any Palestinian Authority attempt to declare statehood unilaterally, and a commitment not to pressure Israel to sign a deal with the PA within 90 days.
Israel will compensate Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria who suffer financial losses due to the freeze, Netanyahu said.
He denied rumors that the three-month freeze period would be used to negotiate the borders of a PA state, and defended his decision to ask the U.S. for commitments in exchange for the freeze. “For 10 months we froze construction and did not demand anything in exchange, but for three more months, we will ask for things that are important to the state of Israel,” he said.
The U.S. has demanded a ban on construction for Jews east of the 1948 armistice line, including in Jerusalem, in order to bring the PA to the negotiating table. In an unprecedented move, PA leaders have demanded a freeze in order to begin talks, despite the fact that construction has been taking place only within the limits of existing Israeli towns, and not in PA-controlled territory.
The freeze applies only to construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria. Meanwhile, construction by the PA for Arabs continues apace.