New formula drafted in talks between Israel and the US on settlement construction

Netanyahu will be allowed to establish a new settlement for the evacuees of Amona. In return, Israel can only build new units in the settlement blocs.
Netanyahu and Trump (Archives) Photo credit: Avi Ohayon, GPO

Before leaving China last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that "progress is being made in talks with the United States on the issue of settlement construction." On Saturday evening, it was revealed to Channel 2 News that the basis for Netanyahu’s cautious optimism was US President Donald Trump’s “formula for continued construction in the territories,” currently being worked on as part of the US government's talks with Netanyahu's team.

According to the formula, the US administration will recognize the thousands of construction units already declared by Netanyahu and will allow the Israeli Prime Minister to keep his promise to the evacuees of Amona for the establishment of a new settlement. Later on, Netanyahu will agree to the Trump administration’s call for restraint in construction in general and for Israel to continue construction only within the existing settlement blocs. For the formula to work, it requires the approval of both sides and is liable to encounter disagreement among coalition partners. Netanyahu's office did not relate to the news positively or negatively but did say that "there are quite a few inaccuracies in it."

Yesterday, the White House issued a statement together with the Israeli government following the talks on construction in the territories. In a rather vague and concise announcement, it was noted that thus far, there are no unequivocal agreements between the parties and that the talks are expected to continue. "The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement," the statement said. "The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration."

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