In the clearest indication yet that Israel intends to resume settlement construction en masse when the current “freeze” expires in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today panned the freeze as a failure.
“I decided, unlike any previous government, to freeze the construction in new settlements for a 10-month period to encourage the Palestinians to enter peace talks,” Netanyahu declared in his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), “so far seven months have passed and they haven’t come in.”
Of course even when the settlement freeze was in place, Israel never really stopped construction or even the approval of new construction permits in the West Bank, and increased efforts to build in occupied East Jerusalem, which the government insisted “didn’t count.” In fact efforts by the US to broker peace talks between the two sides have come crashing to a halt, more than once during this so-called freeze, primarily on the basis of massive new settlement announcements.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that the settlement freeze never “bore fruit,” because it never really happened. However with Prime Minister Netanyahu now openly suggesting that they should not “waste any more time” with the freeze, the right-far-right coalition government seems to be chomping at the bit to expand that construction enormously, likely with the claim that they are playing catch-up for the theoretical construction that didn’t happen during the freeze.