Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel will issue building tenders for up to 1,000 housing units in West Bank settlements during the six to nine months of negotiations with the Palestinians, Israeli officials said on Thursday.
The talks between Israel and the Palestinians will resume on Tuesday in Washington, Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters in Jericho Thursday following a meeting with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
In briefing Kerry on his plans for construction in the settlements during the talks, Netanyahu made the following commitments:
1. Israel will issue tenders to build no more than 1,000 housing units in the large settlement blocs – Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. The tenders had been issued previously, but were disqualified due to technical faults. They will now be reissued.
2. Apart from that, the government will not carry out or announce any construction in the settlement blocs.
3. Regarding private construction, the defense minister will approve no new master plans in isolated settlements, even if the plans have already been approved by the other relevant authorities.
4. Nevertheless, private construction that is legally approved by regional councils in the West Bank will continue. But Netanyahu told Kerry this does not apply to a large number of homes.
5. Israel will deny the existence of any agreement to freeze construction in the settlements. Read a full report at Haaretz.