Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that his country would resume construction in West Bank Jewish settlements in eight months, local daily Ha'aretz reported on its website.
A Palestinian boy stands next his family belongings after the Israeli bulldozers destroyed her house in the village of Tana, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Jan. 10, 2010. Israeli bulldozers escorted with military vehicles demolished 17 tin houses and a primary school in the village of Tana. Israeli forces notified the Palestinian population in the village of Tana that the territories are in the range of military fire exercising units of Israeli army. [Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua]
"In another eight months, we will start building again," Netanyahu told his coalition members, highlighting that Israel's freeze on construction in West Bank settlements was only temporary.
Meanwhile, the prime minister told the ministers that Israel was interested in seeing peace talks with the Palestinians begin as soon as possible.
"We want to renew negotiations without negotiations," said Netanyahu.
Under pressure from the Obama administration, Netanyahu announced in November a limited, 10-month moratorium on new housing in the West Bank settlements, saying that he hoped the move would help restart negotiations suspended since December 2008.
However, he stressed that the construction limits will not be implemented in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem.
Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967 and later annexed, are considered by the international community as Israeli settlements and one of the main obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Israel deems Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the east section of the holy city as capital of their future state.
The Palestinians have vowed that they will not return to the negotiating table unless Israel totally freezes its construction activities of Jewish settlements in the West Bank as well as in East Jerusalem.