Today the Israeli Government Press Office announced that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu  has proposed a 10 month suspension of new construction permits in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)

As part of the efforts to give momentum to the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and advance Israel’s comprehensive national interests, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will today (Wednesday), 25.11.09, ask the Security Cabinet to approve a ten-month suspension of new residential construction permits and new residential construction starts in Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told Security Cabinet members at the start of today’s meeting that, “In the international circumstances that have been created, this step will promote Israel’s broad national interests.  This is neither simple nor easy but it has many more advantages than disadvantages.  It allows us to place a simple fact before the world: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps in order to do so and is very serious in its intentions to promote peace.”

This follows a real bruhaha about the permits to extend the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo. Just about every newspaper outside Israel claimed Gilo was a settlement; but as Maurice Ostroff has demonstrated in the Jerusalem Post it is nothing of the sort:

THE REALITY is that Gilo is very different than the outposts in the West Bank. It is not in east Jerusalem as widely reported. It is a Jerusalem neighborhood with a population of around 40,000. The ground was bought by Jews before WWII and settled in 1971 in south west Jerusalem opposite Mount Gilo within the municipal borders. There is no inference whatsoever that it rests on Arab land.

But back to the point: Netanyahu has thrown down the gauntlet. He is saying we have now gone as far as is politically possible to meet US and Palestinian Authority demands. Your move.

But now let’s see what the PA thinks of next. Having received this concession it will no doubt find an excuse to reject it and demand even more. This is the usual game. Demand until Israel can no longer say yes, and then paint them as the obstacle to peace. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.