The talks are being held despite Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. On Thursday, the head of the West Bank settlers council, Naftali Bennett, declared an end to Israel’s partial settlement freeze and vowed to continue building.
Naftali Bennett: “The immoral freeze on Jewish building in the land of Israel is over, and as of now, in dozens of locations across Judea and Samaria, the mountain range of Judea and Samaria, we’re building.”
Bennett’s group, the Yesha council, says construction is taking place in at least eighty settlements across the West Bank. Palestinian Authority spokesperson Ghassan Khatib said although Israel has never fully stopped expanding settlements, Palestinians now expect a frenzy of settlement construction.
Ghassan Khatib: “Unfortunately, Israel has never stopped the settlement expansion, including in the so-called moratorium that they announced. But yesterday, in particular, there was a massive resumption of settlement expansion and activities in many places in the Palestinian territories. There was a very dangerous decision by the municipality of occupied Jerusalem to resume construction of homes in certain parts of occupied East Jerusalem. There was also laying ground and laying foundations for new construction in three settlements in the West Bank.”