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Israeli premier rejects complete freeze of outpost construction

RIA Novosti

20:43 14/09/2009 TEL AVIV, September 14 (RIA Novosti) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the country will not permanently freeze the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Netanyahu's comments came ahead of his meeting with the White House Mideast envoy George Mitchell, scheduled for Tuesday.

"The Palestinians expect a complete halt to building; it is now clear that this will not happen," the Haaretz daily quoted Netanyahu as telling a parliamentary foreign affairs and defense committee

The United States has been urging Israel to agree to a freeze, to enable progress in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

However, the premier said: "A reduction on building in Judea and Samaria will only be for a limited period... There is still no agreement with the Americans on the period of the freeze."

The Israeli-U.S. meeting is aimed at helping start Israeli-Palestinian talks before the two sides meet at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23.

The issue of Jewish outposts has become the main obstacle to reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, and a sticking point in relations with the United States, Israel's main strategic ally.

Under the internationally agreed roadmap for Middle East peace, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity and remove unauthorized outposts built since 2001.

The head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said last Wednesday that Arab countries see no reason to normalize relations with Israel while Tel Aviv continues building illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.


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