Israeli PM stops new housing

JERUSALEM - Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended new housing projects in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, hoping to reach common ground with Washington, a government minister said yesterday.

"Since the government was established five months ago no contracts have been issued for Judea and Samaria," housing minister Ariel Atias said.

"The fact is, we are in a holding pattern ... an attempt, I believe, to reach an understanding with the US administration and a comprehensive peace agreement," Atias told Israel Radio.

The anti-settlement Peace Now confirmed that no new contracts had been issued butsaid 1000 housing units were under construction in the West Bank. - Reuters