On the eve of his departure to the United States where he will meet with President Barak Obama and address the Congress, Prime Minister Netanyahu promised to not exceed the Likud principles for a peace accord with the Palestinian Authority and assured nationalist MKs his use of the term "settlement blocs" did not expressely exclude settlements outside the major blocs.
In his Monday speech to the Knesset Netanyahu said "settlement blocs" would remain under Israeli control, which created a stir and led some to raise questions about the future status of the Jordan Valley, which Netanyahu had previously said Israel must retain for security purposes, and settlements not in the major blocs.
Netanyahu met with ministers and Knesset members from Likud, saying "the word 'blocs' means different things in different contexts."
Netanyahu's reassurances Wednesday were consistent with comments made immediately after his speech Monday night when Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely approached Netanyahu and said, "The rule that you set implies the exception to the rule," meaning that his insistence on retaining the settlement blocs means that the other towns are expendable.
Netanyahu responded, "That is not the intention."
Netanyahu, who implied a willingness to cede some settlements outside the major settlement blocs under an agreement with the PA, clarified the purpose of his speech in the Knesset, one week before he addresses Congress in Washington, was not to make specific decisions about individual settlements, but to "to formulate a broad national consensus" on the blocs.
"Maybe for the Knesset that did not work," Netanyahu said, "But I feel for the public, for public relations, it worked. What I said is that everything is based on the conditions: Recognition of Israel, a united Jerusalem, and no right of return. "
Netanyahu actually outlined five conditions (as opposed to three) for a peace accord with the PA,
The PA must recognize Israel as the Jewish nation’s state.
The treaty must be an end to the conflict.
The Arab refugee problem must be solved outside of Israel’s borders.
A PA state must be demilitarized and a peace treaty must safeguard Israel’s security.
The settlement blocs will remain within the state of Israel and Jerusalem will remain its united capital.
Also today, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas hosted a confab with an American delegation seeking clarification on the political realities of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, saying he was "ready to talk" to Israel on the condition it renew its building freeze in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem.
Abbas refused to come to the table during the 10 month freeze Israel agreed to in order to bring him to the table previously.