Friday, January 27, 2012

Israelis Say Settlements Must Be Part Of Israeli State

JERUSALEM — Israeli negotiators told their Palestinian counterparts this week that their guiding principle for drawing the borders of a future two-state solution would be for existing settlement blocks to become part of Israel, an approach that the Palestinians rejected as unacceptable.

The discussion, which occurred in Jordan on Wednesday night, was the first time the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally told the Palestinian Authority how it would seek to handle the territorial part of their negotiations, although Mr. Netanyahu had made the point publicly to Congress in Washington in May.

A Palestinian official said the offer “effectively abandons international law and the framework we have been focused on for the past 20 years.” Speaking on the condition of anonymity on the subject of the talks, as did Israeli officials, the Palestinian said, “If you put it in perspective, it is as if the West Bank were not occupied, just disputed, with both sides having legitimate claims, while the rest of Israel remains outside the dispute.”

An Israeli official defended the offer.

“The principle we laid out on Wednesday is that the majority of Palestinians should be on the Palestinian side and the majority of Jews on our side,” that official said. “These are preliminary discussions. The Palestinians have asked for clarification. We have asked for clarifications from them on some things as well. And we hope that in the coming weeks these talks will continue.”

The Palestinians said they saw little reason to keep the talks — started under Jordanian sponsorship this month — going
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