But National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said he was against the freeze. "The decision to freeze opposes natural justice and harms human rights. There is no political wisdom in it. After the Bar Ilan speech, when we agreed on the establishment of a Palestinian state, what was the result? The political pressure on Israel has only gotten worse," he said.
Landau added he hoped the prime minister would decide against the freeze. "The Arab and Palestinian refusal to cooperate has just intensified. A move intended to bring about an improvement in atmosphere has finally only brought on the intensification of pressure, so we need to be very cautious," he said.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who like Landau belongs to Yisrael Beiteinu, was more optimistic. "The prime minister is not afraid of anyone, and he needs to be strengthened in all negotiations with the Americans," he said.
"The construction needs to continue in Jerusalem and we need to strengthen the larger settlements as well. We need to see what the other side will pay for these things."
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai called the construction plans a "strategic pause", and said that "Abbas cannot bring peace, as he has already proven in the past when Olmert gave him nearly everything".
"Israel is actually realizing past commitments of the previous government and this is causing rage in Europe and the US. I am happy we can continue to build hundreds of housing units, and in Jerusalem there will actually be no freezing," Yishai added.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, of the Likud, said no agreement had been made yet with the US on the construction freeze. "I think the prime minister's move is well thought out and allows for the preservation of construction in Jerusalem as well as normal lives in the settlements," he said.
Netanyahu approves plans
On Friday an aide to Netanyahu announced that "the prime minister plans to approve the construction of hundreds of news housing units in Judea and Samaria, before the freeze."
Top Jerusalem sources also stressed that Israel would continue the construction of some 2,500 housing units in the West Bank that is already underway.
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Friday the planned Israeli move was "unacceptable". A Palestinian Authority official said his government would consider asking the EU for sanctions against Israel.
Later the White House said it "regretted" Netanyahu's decision. "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop," said a statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.