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Israel to debate US settlement deal

The US has offered a package of incentives to Israel in exchange for a 90-day settlement freeze.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu.
Image: Mary Altaffer/AP/Press Association Images

THE UNITED STATES has offered a package of security incentives to the Israeli government in exchange for the country imposing a 90-day freeze on settlement construction on the West Bank and reentering Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the US has asked Israel for a freeze on all new settlement construction begun after September 26th for a 90-day period – in exchange for support in the United Nations and 20 additional advanced fighter planes worth $3 billion.

The moratorium on construction would not include east Jerusalem, the newspaper reports.

If the deal is accepted the US will not request an additional settlement freeze.

The Palestinians have previously requested that the UN step in to impose a unilateral solution to the decades-old conflict. However – were Israel to accept the deal – the US would agree to veto any efforts by the UN Security Council, or any other international body, to impose on Israel such a non-negotiated solution.

The proposals will be discussed today, however at least four members of Israel’s right-wing Likud party have expressed vehement opposition to the proposals, Ha’aretz reports. Likud members believe that the move is the beginning of negotiations over the borders of a Palestinian state.

Al Jazeera reports that an Israeli settlement watchdog has confirmed that settlers had begun work on 1,649 homes in the West Bank since the 10-month moratorium was lifted in September.

Mohammed Shtayeh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, told CNN that Palestinian negotiators had not yet received official notification from Washington about the proposal. He added:

The most important thing is that it is very unfortunate that such a deal is being conducted between Tel Aviv and Washington, without really any consultation with the Palestinians.

The president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has not yet issued a statement concerning the proposals.

Peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians broke down on 2 September after a settlement freeze ran out and was not renewed.

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