Netanyahu to offer Palestinians only partial freeze

September 13, 2010

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will offer Palestinians only a partial freeze as the September 30 end of the moratorium approaches.

The Palestinians last week said they would quit the talks if the settlement freeze does not continue.

Netanyahu’s offer was reported by Israeli daily Haaretz one day before the Israeli leader goes to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for the second round of direct negotiations with the Palestinians, where he will be joined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu hinted at the partial freeze approach on Sunday at a meeting with Likud cabinet ministers and expanded on it in a meeting with Tony Blair, the representative of the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia. Nonetheless, Netanyahu did not tell Blair or the Americans that construction criteria would be based on distinguishing between settlements based on their geographic location.

At a Likud cabinet ministers’ meeting, Netanyahu hinted that he was prepared to adopt a formula involving a partial freeze after the expiry on September 30.

“At the end of the month, the freeze order is due to expire and we have to think about what is the wise thing to do,” Netanyahu said, adding that the potential exists to build 19,000 housing units. “But I believe that in practice what will be built will be much less. We will not agree to be dictated to that nothing will be built, but between 0 and 1 there are other possibilities,” he said according to the Israeli daily.

At his meeting with Blair, Netanyahu said he did not accept the Palestinian approach that if there is no complete freeze, they would leave the talks.

Several hours earlier, he told the cabinet that Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people would be critical to reaching a peace agreement.

“We are saying that the solution is two states for two peoples,” Netanyahu said. “To my regret, I am still not hearing the phrase ‘two states for two peoples’ from the Palestinians. I am hearing them say ‘two states,’ but I am not hearing them recognize two states for two peoples.”




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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