Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a “U turn” and halted plans to build 24,000 settler homes in the West Bank.
The right-wing, pro-settlement leader said he feared an international outcry that would divert attention from Israel lobbying against a nuclear deal with Iran.
“World attention must not be diverted from the primary goal – preventing Iran from achieving an agreement that would enable it to continue its nuclear military programme,” said Netanyahu.
US Secretary of State John Kerry had called on Israel to limit settlement activity. An angry Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been threatening to walk out of three-month-old peace talks brokered by Washington.
Palestinians fear Israeli settlements in areas it captured during the 1967 Middle East war will deny them a viable state. While Israel cites biblical links to the area, most countries consider the enclaves as illegal under international law.