November 13, 2013 – New York – AJC praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for again reaffirming his commitment to the peace process by cancelling a plan to build more housing units in Jewish communities in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“Israel has once more demonstrated concretely, even at domestic political cost, its steadfast commitment to the process,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “We await similar steps from the Palestinian side.”
Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed in July at the initiative of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who set a deadline of April 2014 to reach a permanent, sustainable accord.
Harris pointed out that until now only Israel has taken concrete steps to move the peace process forward, notably an agreement to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, convicted of carrying out terrorist attacks that killed Israeli men, women and children. Fifty-two already have been freed. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, has done painfully little to stem incitement, end the glorification of terrorists, and begin to nurture a culture of peace.
Netanyahu sharply criticized the Israeli Housing Ministry announcement this week of a plan to construct another 20,000 units in settlements. The prime minister reportedly had not been notified in advance.
"This step does not contribute to [a peace] settlement," Netanyahu said. "This is a meaningless step -- legally and in practice -- and an action that creates an unnecessary confrontation with the international community at a time when we are making an effort to persuade the international community to reach a better deal with Iran."