According to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to restrict settlement expansion through the middle of June in an effort to help restart peace talks.
Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer says that the pledge was made to Secretary of State John Kerry during his Israel visit, and that since President Obama was in Israel, the government has been approving fewer settlement expansions than normal.
Netanyahu was apparently reluctant to publicly announce the partial freeze, since several officials in his coalition have condemned the notion on general principle, and even if it had a limited impact it would be extremely controversial among cabinet officials.
Palestinian officials are also being skeptical about the apparent freeze as well, saying the move seems to just be a PR effort by the Netanyahu government as opposed to a serious effort to restart peace talks. Palestinians have insisted there is no point to talks without a freeze, since they would be negotiating for an ever-shrinking amount of territory.
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