Netanyahu awaiting written offer from Obama on settlement freeze
American proposal calls for 90-day extension of West Bank freeze in return for incentives including sale of 20 new fighter jets to Israel.
The Obama administration has not yet presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the written details of a package of incentives it offered in exchange for a temporary freeze in West Bank construction, senior Israeli officials said Tuesday.
“We still do not have a final proposal in writing that can be discussed in depth,” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio.
Netanyahu's communications adviser, Nir Hefetz, added that Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had reached "understandings on the matter", but that the proposal would take time to formulate in writing.
"There are understandings between the U.S. secretary of state and the prime minister, but it takes time for them to be put in writing, and we have to wait," Hefetz said.
The plan proposed by the American administration calls for a 90-day extension of the moratorium on building West Bank settlements in return for a series of incentives including the sale of 20 new fighter jets to Israel and certain guarantees in United Nations discussions. The previous ten-month settlement construction ban expired in September.
Netanyahu's majority in the cabinet coming into a vote on the proposed freeze will be a razor-thin one, officials estimated this week. Considering the wide opposition from within Netanyahu's own party and other right-wing lawmakers, approval will only be possible if Shas ministers agree either abstain or absent themselves from the vote.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Clinton both praised Netanyahu following his return from Washington this week for his willingness to extend the freeze. The Palestinian Authority has declined discussion of the matter pending an official U.S. announcement, but aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have reiterated that any settlement freeze must also include East Jerusalem.