Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear his decision to halt further housing on the West Bank was only a “one-time, temporary move” which apparently is his attempt to placate concerns of Jewish settlers that the government was abandoning them. “We shall resume building once the moratorium is over. The final status accord in Judea will be determined at the end of negotiations–not a day earlier.” Once again, Netanyahu offers confusion rather than clarity. President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has refused to attend any conference until all housing ends, including any in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu insists he is against preconditions even as he sets preconditions that Palestinians must accept such as no discussion about east Jerusalem.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he will enforce the temporary freeze on housing. Again, an Israel leader makes a positive statement and then clouds over its meaning by adding, “on the other hand, it(freeze) will be carried out in a way that ensures as much dialogue as possible with residents.” Perhaps, it is time to make clear to Jewish settlers they have no right to impede a peace process and further construction must cease. Until that is accepted by all Israelis, we can expect protests and attempts to violate the no building freeze.