Israel PM vowed not to freeze settlements: minister

Israel PM vowed not to freeze settlements: minister

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed not to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank, according to one of his ministers quoted on Wednesday, AFP reported.

"I heard the prime minister say with my own ears that he has no intention of freezing construction in the settlements or in Jerusalem," the English-language Jerusalem Post quoted minister without portfolio Yossi Peled as saying.

"He said there is no agreement to freeze construction in the settlements. I am telling you this first-hand," he told members of Netanyahu's hawkish Likud party on Tuesday evening.

An aide to Peled confirmed his remarks, saying they were made after Peled accompanied Netanyahu on a visit to Europe last week.

Netanyahu's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said he had not yet made any decision on the US demand that Israel freeze all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land as part of efforts to jump-start the stalled Middle East peace process.

Recent media reports suggested Israel would agree to a nine-month freeze in the occupied West Bank but not in annexed east Jerusalem. Palestinians have insisted they would not accept a partial settlement freeze.

Netanyahu failed to seal an understanding during a London meeting last week with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

The thorny issue of settlements on occupied Palestinian land -- which house some half a million Israelis and are considered illegal by the international community -- are among the main obstacles in the peace process.

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