15 Nov 2010

Israel settlement freeze plan faces opposition

4:49 pm on 15 November 2010

Reports from Israel suggest the government is split over whether to accept a United States offer intended to encourage it to renew a partial freeze on settlement-building in the occupied West Bank.

The US is proposing a 90-day freeze building, though that would not include East Jerusalem settlements.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed his cabinet on Sunday on Washington's attempts to revive stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The US has reportedly said it will strengthen its commitment to oppose UN resolutions critical of Israel, and offer defence and security guarantees in return for the settlement-building freeze.

Israeli media report that Vice-Premier Moshe Yaalon and three others in Mr Netanyahu's Likud Party opposed the deal.

Mr Yaalon was quoted as saying the US offer would lead Israel "down a slippery slope and into another crisis with the American administration".

The Palestinian Authority reacted negatively to the proposal because the halt would not include East Jerusalem, the BBC reports.

The settlement row has derailed US-brokered direct peace talks, which resumed in September after almost 20 months and broke down only weeks later, when the previous construction freeze expired.