News / Middle East

Netanyahu Hardens Settlement Demands in Peace Talks

Jordan's King Abdullah (L) walks with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before their meeting at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jan. 16, 2014.
Jordan's King Abdullah (L) walks with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before their meeting at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jan. 16, 2014.
Reuters
Israel's prime minister has increased the amount of occupied territory he wants to keep after any peace deal with the Palestinians, state media reported on Thursday, a move that could complicate U.S.-backed efforts to reach an accord.
 
Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman declined to comment on the report he had added a bloc of Israeli-settled land near the Palestinian governmental seat in the occupied West Bank to a list of enclaves Israel intends to retain.
 
That would leave 13 percent of the West Bank in Israeli hands, Israel's Army Radio said, a prospect likely to dismay Palestinians who want the area for a future state. There was no immediate comment from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Netanyahu had also departed from past peace blueprints that had envisaged an equal trade of land inside Israel for any West Bank areas it retained, the radio station said.
 
Instead, Netanyahu has offered to buy some of the settlement land from the Palestinians, but they had rejected such a deal, it added.
 
The station attributed its information to an anonymous source familiar with the details of five-month-old, U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
According to the report, Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel intends to hold on to the Beit El settlement enclave in addition to the Etzion, Maale Adumim and Ariel blocs it has long said it would keep.
 
Beit El, north of Jerusalem, is next to the Palestinian city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority run by Mahmoud Abbas is headquartered.
 
Bibilical link
 
Army Radio said Netanyahu, in his talks with Kerry, cited a biblical connection to the Beit El area, noting its depiction in the Book of Genesis as the place where Jacob dreamt about a ladder to heaven.
 
The future of settlements is a core issue in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians fear Israeli enclaves will deny them a contiguous and viable country.
 
Israel, in tandem with the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners as part of the current negotiations, has stoked Palestinian anger by announcing new housing construction plans in areas it has said will remain in its hands.
 
Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel captured those areas in the 1967 war and pulled its troops out of the Gaza Strip, now run by Hamas Islamists opposed to the peace talks, in 2005.
 
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Most countries consider the settlements illegal and Palestinians fear the enclaves will deny them a viable and contiguous state.
 
Kerry came under fire this week from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who was quoted in an Israeli newspaper as rejecting a U.S.-proposed security plan and calling Kerry “messianic” in his quest for a peace deal.
 
America's top diplomat, who has paid 10 visits to Jerusalem over the past year, said on Wednesday he would not be deterred by the criticism.
 
Netanyahu visited Jordan on Thursday to discuss the peace process with King Abdullah, Jordan's official Petra news agency said. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs