Netanyahu: U.S. pressure spurs freeze

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he suspended construction in West Bank settlements because of American pressure, an Israeli news site reported.

Netanyahu told a group of settler leaders that the activity of the planning council of Israel’s Civil Administration, the body responsible for authorizing construction in the West Bank, had been partially suspended because the United States demanded it, the news site nrg.co.il reported.

Netanyahu, who met May 29 with mayors from 20 West Bank settlements, said the United States recently demanded that the Civil Administration not only refrain from issuing tenders for construction, but also freeze the activity of its planning committee altogether and not approve new projects that would later require tenders.

At the meeting, which took place at the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Netanyahu reportedly told the mayors he was “the defender of settlements,” adding that he had resisted earlier Obama administration demands that “not a single brick be laid, not a single house be built.” — jta