AJC: No New Settlement Building in West Bank Underscores Israel's Commitment to Peace Talks

Jun 01, 2010, 15:08 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, June 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC welcomed the Israeli government confirmation this week that no new settlement construction was initiated in the first three months of 2010.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu has fulfilled his promise of last November to impose a ten-month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Let's remember that Israel's bold decision to freeze new construction was an unprecedented good-faith gesture intended to move the Palestinian Authority to resume direct negotiations, yet, despite the Israeli action, President Abbas has still refused to return."

Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics issued the report, which shows zero settler housing starts in the first quarter of 2010. According to reports, this is the first time there has been zero new construction in West Bank settlements.

The Israeli government moratorium, however, does allow for completion of about 3,000 housing units in existing communities that were started before November 26, 2009.

"One would have expected the Palestinian leadership to stop using the 'no' word and return to direct peace talks with Israel, which President Abbas unilaterally suspended seventeen months ago," said Harris. "Regrettably, even in the wake of the historic settlements moratorium, the Palestinian leadership continues to balk at resuming direct talks that can bring real peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee