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Debate over Israel's settlement freeze

Al Jazeera English reported Wednesday that Israel's prime minister announced a 10-month suspension to the construction of new settlement houses in the West Bank.


Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement came at a press conference Wednesday, during which he said the decision was made to encourage the peace process with the Palestinians.


Calling the move "far-reaching and painful," according to a Haaretz report, Netanyahu said construction would resume after the moratorium is over.


Despite the announcement, another Haaretz report said many Palestinian leaders are dissatisfied with the proposal because of its failure to halt construction in Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to establish a state capital in the future.


According to Al Jazeera, Israel's proposal excludes public buildings and the construction of 3,000 buildings that has already begun.

"This is not a moratorium," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Unfortunately, we hoped he would commit to a real settlement freeze so we can resume negotiations and he had a choice between settlements and peace and he chose settlements."


Netanyahu's announcement comes after pressure from the Obama administration to freeze settlements. Although the U.S. president has not made comments on the move yet, U.S. reactions have been mixed. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the move was disappointing because it is not a full freeze on construction, but he acknowledged its significance and potential positive impact, according to the BBC.



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