Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has quietly issued a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, according to reports.
Army Radio reported that Netanyahu met with Housing Minister Uri Ariel and instructed him to halt the creation of new housing projects in Judea and Samaria. Additionally, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu promised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that he would not issue new construction tenders there until mid-June. Kerry has been attempting to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, has demanded an Israeli construction freeze as a precondition for the resumption of talks.
In 2009, Netanyahu issued a 10-month halt on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria as part of an effort by President Barack Obama to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. But Abbas only agreed to negotiations shortly before the freeze was set to expire, and then backed out of negotiations when the freeze ended.
Netanyahu, who is currently visiting China, has not yet commented on reports of a construction freeze.