JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there will not be a complete freeze on building in the settlements.
"The Palestinians expect a complete halt to building; it is now clear that this will not happen," Netanyahu told a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, according to Israeli media reports. "Jerusalem is not a settlement and construction will go on as planned."
Netanyahu said he told American officials that Israel would continue building 2,500 apartments on which construction had already started, as well as the 450 apartments authorized last week.
Netanyahu told the committee that he has been working toward advancing peace with the Palestinians, pointing to the removal of many roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank as well as the opening of the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank for more hours a day.
The Israeli leader postponed a meeting scheduled for Monday with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell to attend the funeral of Israeli pilot Assaf Ramon, son of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed Sunday in a flight accident.