Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that a settlement construction freeze in the West Bank would not be permanent.
"A reduction on building in Judea and Samaria will only be for a limited period," he said. "There is still no agreement with the Americans on the period of the freeze."
A day after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo in an effort to restart the peace process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu went on to say, "The Palestinians expected a complete settlement freeze, and now it's clear that this won't happen."
"We're balancing both the desire to make a gesture, in order to re-launch the peace process, and the need to let Judea and Samaria residents live a normal life, and also to continue building public structures."
Earlier Monday, Israel
Radio reported that during their Sunday meeting, Mubarak had urged Netanyahu to halt settlement construction, saying that continued building was hindering efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
The Netanyahu-Mubarak meeting took place as US Mideast envoy George Mitchell was holding high-level talks in Jerusalem
, as part of efforts to piece together a package enabling the announcement of a renewal of peace talks.Herb Keinon contributed to this report
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