Newspaper: Israeli PM agrees to extend settlement freeze by 2 months
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to extend Israel's freeze on settlement construction by 60 days, the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat quoted Israeli officials as saying on Monday.
The Asharq al-Awsat report came amid recent claims that U.S. President Barack Obama had offered Netanyahu an incentive package in exchange for keeping settlement construction at bay, a move which could quell Palestinian concerns over settlement building and consequently bring them back to the negotiations table.
According to Israeli sources quoted in the report, Netanyahu expressed his preliminary approval to extend Israel's moratorium on settlement building, adding that he conditioned such a move on a list of U.S. assurances, which included a continued IDF presence in the Jordan valley and continued U.S. political and military support.
Netanyahu claimed that the assurances listed would aid him in the face of the widespread internal opposition expected to such a move.
There are more than 100 Jewish settlements on the West Bank, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, in which more than 300,000 Jewish Israelis live. About other 200,000 live in East Jerusalem, which in terms of the international community, is also referred as to the occupied territories and the status of which must be defined in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.