Netanyahu Meets Top Ministers, but No Mention of Settlement Freeze Extension

Forum of seven concludes meeting, doesn't discuss Israel-PA talks after expectations that the PM would present proposal to extend settlement freeze in exchange for U.S. guarantees.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's forum of senior ministers met Tuesday but did not discuss negotiations with the Palestinians, despite expectations that the forum would discuss a proposal to extend the settlement freeze in exchange for American guarantees.

netanyahu - Tomer Appelbaum - Sept 12 2010
Tomer Appelbaum

"The forum of seven discussed preparations for the delegitimization campaign designed to strip Israel from its right to self defense," sources in the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

"During the discussion, the forum heard updates on the upcoming timetable of the UN committee investigating the events of the Gaza flotilla," the statement said. "The ministers did not touch on the topic of Israel-PA peace talks," it added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to convene the forum of seven on Tuesday in order to debate extending Israel's moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements for 60 days, after Israel's 10-month construction freeze ended on September 26.

Forum of seven senior ministers
Amos Biderman

The concession would be made in exchange for a series of reported U.S. guarantees in Israel's direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The U.S. guarantees over core issues in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians include refugees, security arrangements and Israel's status as a Jewish state. In return for the American guarantees, Israel is expected to extend the suspension of construction in West Bank settlements for several more months.

The Palestinians have said they would not continue the recently renewed negotiations unless Israel agreed to halt construction again. The Obama administration has urged Israel to reconsider its refusal of that demand.