Israel begins enforcing limited moratorium on new buildings
Israel has begun enforcing a temporary moratorium on building new West Bank settlements. The 10-month freeze on new construction was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) last week.
REUTERS - Israeli inspectors armed with aerial maps and empowered to confiscate construction equipment have begun enforcing a limited government moratorium on new building in West Bank settlements, officials said on Monday.
The 10-month freeze on new housing projects was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, who pitched it as an attempt to persuade Palestinians to return to U.S.-sponsored peace talks suspended since December.
The temporary moratorium does not apply to areas in the West Bank that Israel annexed to its Jerusalem municipality after capturing the territory from Jordan in a 1967 war.
Palestinians, who seek to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, brushed off the Israeli step as insufficient and a ruse.
Netanyahu's decision pits the government against settlers who claim a biblical birthright to the land and who, in many cases, have long expanded their enclaves without state approval.
"We are conducting operations throughout the West Bank. We have issued stop-work orders and begun confiscating equipment," said Lee Hiromoto, spokesman for the division in Israel's Defence Ministry which handles West Bank administration.