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Israel's Netanyahu to Give 'Major' Speech on Mideast Peace Plan

Israel could be responding to American pressure to advance the Middle East peace process. But Palestinians are skeptical.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet, that he will lay out his plan for Middle East peace in a major policy speech next week.

He said that Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world, while "trying to reach as much of an understanding as possible with the United States."

Tensions have risen between the United States and Israel, after Mr. Netanyahu rejected repeated demands by President Barack Obama to halt construction in Jewish settlements.

The prime minister insists building in existing settlements will continue to accommodate "natural growth." He also has not endorsed U.S. calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, which he sees as a serious threat to Israel's security.

Mr. Netanyahu gave no indication that his opposition to those key issues is going to change.

Palestinian analyst Sam Bahour doubts Mr. Netanyahu will make serious concessions without further pressure from the United States, Europe and the United Nations.

"It is time for the international community to bring international law back into the equation," Bahour said. "Israel must be held to the rules of international law."

But Mr. Netanyahu also faces pressure at home, from his right-wing coalition that opposes a settlement freeze and the creation of a Palestinian state. So the Prime Minister is walking a tightrope: He wants to preserve Israel's all-important relations with the U.S., but he also wants to keep his fractious government intact.