Israel Offers a Temporary Settlement Freeze

June 29, 2009

Israeli senior officials yesterday said that Israel is open to a 3-6 month complete settlement freeze (including natural growth) in order to allow for Palestinian negotiations to take place. Officials asked they not be named, as the issue is so “explosive” within Israel that they do not wish to be associated with the idea yet.

Despite the officials’ claims, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who meets with US envoy George Mitchell this week, has shied away from the subject, saying “the matter mentioned in the headlines has not been finalized.”

This freeze, however, would allow for existing settlement construction to continue. Currently, over 2000 new buildings are under construction across the Palestinian West Bank.  While not meeting US calls for a complete freeze, a brief halt to new settlements is indicative of the Israeli desire to move on from the current tension between the two countries.

Settlements are illegal under International Law. Last month, President Obama and Secretary Clinton made vocal requests for Israel to completely end its creation of new settlements in the West Bank.

Samah Choudhury contributed to this post