-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
My cabinet authorized a policy of restraint regarding settlements which will include a suspension of new permits and new construction in Judea and Samaria for a period of ten months.
We hope that this decision will help launch meaningful peace negotiations. We have been told by many friends [read the United States] that once Israel takes the first step towards peace, the Palestinians and the Arab world would respond positively with steps of their own to create a virtuous cycle of goodwill.
I have already said that we will not build new settlements and that we would not expropriate additional land for existing settlements. I promised to enable normal life to continue for the three hundred thousand Israeli citizens, our brothers and sisters, who live in Judea and Samaria. That is why this suspension will not affect construction currently underway.
Regarding Jerusalem, our sovereign capital...we do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital.
View Video of Netanyahu Statement
(Prime Minister's Office)
Settlements Have Never Been Obstacle to Peace -Tovah Lazaroff
The gaze of the international community will now turn to the Palestinians and to the Arab world, something that the Palestinians in particular have fought hard to prevent for the last eight months.
Palestinians Reject Temporary Israeli Settlement Ease -Ron Bousso
The Palestinians rejected the offer as insufficient. "Netanyahu did not advance any formula for the relaunching of negotiations," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.
But Washington praised the offer.
Will U.S. Twist Arab Arms as Firmly as It Twisted Israel's?
Prime Minister Netanyahu appreciate[s] the irreplaceable strategic value of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
President Obama was emphatically of the opinion that Israel needed to call a settlement freeze in order to generate goodwill for Arab states to bolster international leverage against Tehran, and goodwill for some of those same Arab states to begin the process of normalizing their ties with Israel.
[I]n order to prevent a crisis in ties with Washington, while placing the negotiating ball firmly in the Palestinian and Arab court, Netanyahu made his choice.
Presumably, the U.S. is now trying to twist Arab arms as firmly as it twisted his.
Settlement Freeze Improves U.S.-Israel Relations - Barry Rubin
In giving something in exchange for no material gain or even a gesture from the other side, Israel can only hope that the president appreciates this and remembers that he did not deliver on his promise to get some concession from the Arab side to match it.