President Barack Obama says he is “encouraged” by Israel’s current stance on its West Bank settlements, as while they have repeatedly rebuffed the US on its call for a freeze, officials say they have refused to issue new housing permits over the past few months in something Housing Minister Atlas called a “waiting period.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies that the government has frozen its construction, a position which would be politically unpopular in his right-far-right coalition government. At the same time, the US has soften its call for a freeze, willing to make it a one-year freeze only.
But his position of ambiguity has still gained him harsh condemnation from within the settlements, and a warning that if the “waiting period” continues the government’s days could be numbered. Netanyahu had promised to continue the expansion of the settlements during his campaign, and much of his own party has repeatedly warned that it will not brook anything close to a freeze.