Israeli PM urges restraint on West Bank settlers

Israelis in the West bank are being urged to show restraint and responsibility when a partial ban on settlement building expires.

The call came from their own prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has come under intense international pressure to extend the moratorium to keep the newly reconvened peace talks with the Palestinians alive.

Some settlers made their intentions clear, pouring a symbolic concrete slab well before the expiry of the 10-month freeze.

Netanyahu has said he cannot extend it — his ruling coalition is dominated by pro-settlement parties — though he has said he hopes the scope of future building could be limited.

Israeli settlement building has dominated the face-to-face talks ever since they were resurrected at the beginning of the month.

The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at one time threatened to pull out unless the moratorium was prolonged.

He has since softened his tone, telling an Arab newspaper he would not collapse the negotiations immediately but rather refer the issue to the Arab League forum.

Last week the international Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators urged both sides to refrain from ‘provocative actions and rhetoric,’ anxious to save the talks from failing before they had really begun.