Palestinians refuse to discuss U.S. offer to Israel until 'official' word from Obama
Netanyahu presents cabinet with package of incentives in exchange for 90-DAY settlement freeze; PA: Any freeze must include East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority said Sunday that it had not heard any news from Washington regarding a package of incentives in exchange for a temporary Israeli construction freeze in the West Bank.
"An official Palestinian commitment will come only after President [Mahmoud] Abbas hears officially from the American administration what is going on between them and the Israelis," said the president's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from Washington over the weekend and presented his cabinet with the U.S. offer, which he had discussed with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
An Israeli source said Washington has pledged to veto any resolutions brought to the United Nations Security Council that seek "to impose a political settlement on Israel" as part of the package of incentives.
The source said that the U.S. would undertake to veto resolutions deemed anti-Israel in the United Nations and other international organizations, a move that could make Israel less vulnerable to threats made by some Palestinians to declare statehood unilaterally in the event that peace talks fail.
In return for an Israeli freeze, the U.S. government would also deliver 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a deal worth $3 billion.
Moreover, if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is achieved, the U.S. would sign a comprehensive security agreement with Israel. The U.S. and Israel are to discuss the nature of the new security arrangements in the next few weeks.
Netanyahu's seven-member inner cabinet discussed the U.S. offer on Saturday. The premier then presented then offer to the larger cabinet on Sunday, and was met with severe opposition from many hawkish lawmakers.
According to the offer, Israel would stop construction in the West Bank for 90 days – including any projects that began after the end of the first settlement moratorium on September 26.
The moratorium would not apply to construction in East Jerusalem, a factor which the Palestinian Authority has vehemently opposed. The U.S. will not ask Israel to extend the new moratorium when it expires.
Netanyahu told his Cabinet that details of the proposed deal were still being finalized by Israeli and U.S. teams. He said when the proposal he would bring it before an inner Cabinet of decision-makers when it was complete.
"Every proposal will consider the security needs of the state of Israel, both immediate needs and threats in the coming decade," he said.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said earlier Sunday the Americans had not officially relayed details about the proposal to the Palestinians, but "they know we have a major problem in not including East Jerusalem."
He said Abbas would put the U.S. plan before Palestinian decision-makers and call for an immediate session of Arab League officials before announcing an official decision.
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