Israel set to partially freeze settlement expansion plans

JERUSALEM: Israel decided to freeze some of its settlement expansion plans amid criticism by Western diplomats, the Ha’aretz daily reported on Thursday. According to the report, the civil administration, the body in charge of operations in the West Bank territories, will only go ahead with the construction of 381 out of the 1,800 housing units that the Israeli government decided to advance last week, after the plans were shelved for several months.    Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the report. Five ambassadors from European countries, among which the Britain, France and Germany, warned Israeli officials from the ramifications of construction of the 1,800 settlement house units, the daily reported. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered to thaw and advance shelved construction plans for 1,800 housing units in the settlements, just hours after the Housing and Construction Ministry announced 1,500 new houses in settlements. The announcements were made following the swearing-in ceremony of the new national unity Palestinian government in Ramallah, and a week after Netanyahu promised settlers leaders in a closed meeting that they have his support. 

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