Netanyahu: No settlement freeze vote without U.S. offer in writing
Premier tells members of his Likud party that he will continue to insist on written draft of proposal, but says he is certain ministers will approve offer; also says he won't prioritize talks on borders.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers on Sunday that he had not yet received a written draft from the United States over a proposed package of incentives in exchange for a freeze on West Bank construction.
"We still have not received from the Americans a written summary of the principle understandings," Netanyahu told eight MKs from his Likud party, adding that he would not bring the offer for cabinet vote until he saw the proposal in its entirety.
"I am committed to reaching the decision that best serves the State of Israel and its national interests, primarily security," Netanyahu told MKs from his Likud party, many of whom oppose his willingness to agree to a 90-day construction moratorium.
Netanyahu said that once the offer was presented to him by the U.S., he would bring it to cabinet for a vote. "I am sure that the ministers will approve it because it is what is good for the State of Israel," said the prime minister.
But in the case that the U.S. does not offer a written summary of the understandings, Netanyahu said, he would not bring the proposal forth.
"As prime minister I am obligated to seeing the general picture and to decide what is good for the State of Israel," said Netanyahu. "This is my responsibility and it is exactly what I will do."
Netanyahu also played down rumors that the understandings with the U.S. included reaching a conclusion on the issue of borders immediately following the end of the freeze.
"There is absolutely no agreement that within 90 days we would reach an agreement on the issue of borders," Netanyahu said. "No request of the sort has been made and neither any commitment."
"We will not hold separate conversations regarding the borders, but will rather discuss all the significant issues," he added. "We plan to begin serious debate on all matters."
Likud MKs who participated in the meeting said Netanyahu sounded pessimistic about the chances of receiving a written document that would formalize the understandings.
"One could understand from him that he was hesitant, and not at all sure that the freeze would be implemented," one of the participants said. "It was clear in the course of the meeting that Netanyahu was having difficulty getting from the Americans the document of understandings that he's working on."