‘Netanyahu agrees to extend settlement freeze by 2 months’
Two months or one month it will be permanent! Will lead to delineation of borders without the Arabs conceding a thing. No building will take place therefore on any areas designated as Palestinian borders. They can with American approval go to the UN and declare their state without Israeli approval . Once Israel agrees to borders what’s to stop them? BB must be dumped yesterday. He is putting the whole country in mortal jeopardy. Yamit
The Asharq al-Awsat report came amid recent claims that U.S. President Barack Obama had offered Netanyahu an incentive package in exchange for keeping settlement construction at bay, a move which could quell Palestinian concerns over settlement building and consequently bring them back to the negotiations table.
According to Israeli sources quoted in the report, Netanyahu expressed his preliminary approval to extend Israel’s moratorium on settlement building, adding that he conditioned such a move on a list of U.S. assurances, which included a continued IDF presence in the Jordan valley and continued U.S. political and military support.
Sources quoted in the Asharq al-Awsat piece also said Netanyahu claimed that the assurances listed would aid him in the face of the widespread internal opposition expected to such a move.
Speaking at a meeting of Likud ministers which took place shortly before the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu made a possible reference to the Asharq al-Awsat report, saying that there were “a lot of reports on the subject, most of which are wrong and we can’t deny or correct everything.
“There’s no need to start a debate on the subject,” the PM said, adding, however that Israel was in the “midst of sensitive talks with the U.S. administration to find a solution that would allow talks to continue.”
“There’s no need to cause a stir, but there is a need to conduct ourselves in a wise and responsible manner in order to advance the diplomatic process,” the PM said, adding that he believed he had to “weigh the situation quietly and far from the spotlight, and act quietly.”
Netanyahu added that “efforts, mainly discrete ones, are made and we are expected to conduct ourselves in a restrained, discrete manner. If a decision will be made it would be brought before appropriate governmental bodies.”
Israel was “interested in achieving peace,” Netanyahu adding that it was a “vital interest of the State of Israel.”
Last week, the White House denied that Obama sent Netanyahu a letter proposing a set of U.S. guarantees to Israel in exchange for Israel extending a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank for another two months.
“No letter was sent to the Prime Minister. We are not going to comment on sensitive diplomatic matters,” said Benjamin Chang, the deputy spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
It is not clear, however, whether Obama could have made the offer via means other than a letter.
Obama’s letter was said to include a long list of American favors in exchange for an extension of the settlement building freeze, which ended this week. Most of these favors are critical to Israel’s strategic security needs that Netanyahu has been demanding for years.
Other commitments that Obama reportedly offered Netanyahu in the letter include an agreement not to ask for any more building freeze extensions, an agreement to veto any anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution in the next year, and an agreement that the future fate of the settlements be dealt with only as part of a final status agreement with the Palestinians.
Obama’s letter was said to include additional commitments, including a series of guarantees to prevent the smuggling of weapons and missiles into a Palestinian state, a lengthy period of interim security arrangements in the Jordan Valley and a comprehensive regional defense pact for protection from Iran to follow the establishment of the Palestinian state.
The American president also reportedly vowed to upgrade Israel’s security capabilities and increase the three billion dollar security aid package that Israel receives annually. The letter included commitments to advanced weapons and early warning systems, including satellites.