Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has requested that the Housing Ministry freeze new construction projects in Judea and Samaria (Shomron), IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal) reports.
Netanyahu met with Housing Minister Uri Ariel and asked him to halt promotion of new projects in the region, including by no longer putting up for bids tenders on new projects.
Just days ago Ariel said that if the state budget did not include funding for promised construction in Judea and Samaria, such as the planned project in E1 in Maaleh Adumim, his party would not support the budget.
Neither Ariel’s office nor Netanyahu’s gave an official response to the IDF Radio report.
The reported freeze on new projects comes shortly after United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart diplomatic talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Acting PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that he will not negotiate with Netanyahu unless Israel freezes construction east of the 1949 armistice line. Abbas has made other demands as well, including the release of terrorists imprisoned in Israel.
Abbas’ term expired years ago, but he continues to act as PA Chairman as no new elections have been held.
During his last term as Prime Minister, Netanyahu froze construction in Judea and Samaria for several months in an attempt to bring the PA to the negotiating table. Abbas agreed to talk shortly before the construction freeze was to end, but backed out of negotiations when the freeze ended as scheduled.