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June 18, 2017 6:36 pm

Israeli Official: PA Has Not dropped Demand for Settlement Freeze

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President Donald Trump and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. Twitter/RT_com. – A senior Israeli official said Thursday that contrary to media reports, the Palestinians have not officially relinquished their demand for a complete moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank prior to the resumption of the peace process.

Reports suggesting the Palestinian Authority (PA) was willing to relent on its demand, which has been a precondition to resuming peace talks since negotiations broke down in 2014, followed President Donald Trump’s Mideast visit last month.

But an official in Jerusalem told Israel Hayom the Palestinians have not confirmed the reports.

The official also denied a Channel 2 report that the government had approved construction in the West Bank Palestinian city of Qalqilya that would effectively double its size.

“What did happen is that the [Diplomatic-Security] Cabinet granted retroactive permits for homes built [illegally] over the years, pursuant to a decision made a year ago, during the previous American administration,” the official said.

“Every year, we raze some 1,500 illegal Palestinian structures in Area C, which is under full Israeli control. This move was meant to give them [the Palestinians] some breathing room.”

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