Israel says it will impose a temporary freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank in a bid to resume peace talks with the Palestinians.
"Israel today has taken a far-reaching step toward peace; it is time for the Palestinians to do the same," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The Palestinians, however, rejected the 10 month freeze which is to be applied only to new housing projects, meaning about 3,000 units under construction can be finished.
"Netanyahu did not advance any formula for the re-launching of negotiations," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
The situation of settlement building has been a key issue in efforts to restart Middle East peace talks with the Palestinians.
"We will not halt existing construction and we will continue to build synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for normal life in the settlements," Netanyahu said.
He also said the "far-reaching and painful" move to freeze settlement work would not be implemented on East Jerusalem al-Quds which is viewed by the regime as a separate issue to be discussed in a final status agreement with the Palestinians, Haaretz reported.
"We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital," the Premier said.
The regime which occupied the city during a 1967 aggression claims it is its "eternal, indivisible" capital.