Israel on Friday denied a newspaper report it had agreed to suspend all government construction in West Bank settlements in return for a commitment by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume direct peace talks.
The prime minister's spokesman, Mark Regev, told dpa that no such offer had been made and Israel's position remained that direct peace talks must begin without preconditions.
Abbas has repeatedly insisted that he will not return to the negotiating table until Israel suspends all construction in its West Bank settlements and in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
According to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, the Israeli proposal was relayed Wednesday to Abbas by Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, who was visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories, as part of a mediation attempt launched by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Abbas reportedly told Holguin that he was not opposed to renewing talks, but Israel would have to commit to certain steps on settlement construction, even if only symbolically.
Netanyahu's reply, when he met the Colombian diplomat, was that he would be prepared to halt construction on Israeli-government land in the West Bank.
But he said he would not freeze construction by private developers on privately-owned land, where most Israeli building in the West Bank is carried out.