Sunday, November 14, 2010

Netanyahu raises hopes for peace process breakthrough; Cabinet likely to accept U.S. freeze trade

(Telegraph, Haaretz).Benjamin Netanyahu raised hopes for a breakthrough in the Middle East peace process on Sunday by giving preliminary backing to a US proposal on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

Under the proposal, Mr Netanyahu is expected to resume a freeze on residential construction in the West Bank for a one-off period of 90 days and commit to discussing the location of borders for a Palestinian state in the next phase of negotiations.

In return, Washington would offer an array of inducements, ranging from 20 fighter jets worth nearly £2 million and an undertaking to scupper attempts to introduce UN Security Council resolutions opposed by Israel.

“If and when it is complete, I will bring this proposal to the appropriate Government forum, which in this case is the Cabinet,In any case, I insist that any proposal meet the State of Israel’s security needs...both in the immediate term and vis-a-vis the threats that we will face in the coming decade," Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast by Israeli media. ”

Mr Netanyahu is understood narrowly to have won vital support for the proposal from his inner cabinet after the pro-settler interior minister, Eli Yishai, said he would abstain in any vote.

An Israeli political source said the security cabinet vote was expected later this week and that seven ministers - Netanyahu among them - were likely to back the U.S. proposal, against six who would vote against and two who would abstain.