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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs