'We Will Not Freeze Construction in Judea and Samaria'
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised Likud MKs over the weekend that he would not let the US pressure him into accepting a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, just before taking off for Washington.
"There will not be a decision made to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu told senior Likud members Saturday night.
Netanyahu is under immense pressure by nationalist MKs to reject the construction freeze, including Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who called the freeze a "deluded idea" last month. Ariel noted that the previous building freeze worsened tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Netanyahu's warning comes hours before he left Sunday morning for Washington to meet with US President Barack Obama, who the New York Times reported last week would be pressuring the Israeli leader into accepting the US framework for peace. Yisrael Hayom reports Sunday that Netanyahu's wife Sara will also be traveling to Washington and meeting with the wife of US Vice President Joe Biden.
"I am now leaving on an important trip to the US where I will meet with President Barack Obama," Netanyahu stated. "We will discuss the Iranian issue and the diplomatic process. I will stand steadfast on the State of Israel's vital interests, especially the security of Israel's citizens. In recent years the State of Israel has been under various pressures. We have rejected them in the face of the unprecedented storm and unrest in the region and are maintaining stability and security. This is what has been and what will be."
Little has trickled out about the details of Kerry's proposed framework to guide the talks forward. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times published some alleged details of the plan, which, he said, will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 armistice lines, with "unprecedented" security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley.
Martin Indyk, American envoy to the peace talks, later revealed to American Jewish leaders that 75 to 80 percent of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria would remain in their homes even after a permanent agreement.
The agreement will include a reference to the incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and will also include a reference to compensation for Jewish refugees who came from Arab countries.