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Israel ponders new settlement freeze incentives

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Israel ponders new settlement freeze incentives


The Israeli cabinet is considering a new US proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock in stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israel would declare a new three-month freeze on West Bank settlements in return for diplomatic incentives and upgraded security aid. The details are thought to include guarantees about US support at the UN and the sale of more warplanes.

“In any event, I insist that any proposals will address Israel’s security needs, both in the immediate term and in facing threats in the coming decade,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinians are also weighing up the reported US plan. They say they have had no official word but are giving the proposals a cautious welcome.

“We hope that the American efforts to convince Israel to stop this expansion of settlements in order to resume negotiations will work and succeed,” said Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib.

The plan does not cover Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. Netanyahu has previously said any settlement moratorium would not apply to areas there that Israel captured during a war in 1967 and that Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.

The Israeli prime minister faces a hard sell to his coalition over the proposed new construction freeze in the West Bank. One minister has described the US plan as a great offer; another said it played into the hands of terrorists.

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