Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that President Obama was “very clear” in last week’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States wants Israel to halt all expansion to its West Bank settlements, and would make no exceptions for “natural growth.”
The statement sets the stage for a battle with the Israeli government over the question, as Netanyahu has insisted that his government will continue to expand the current settlements, citing “natural growth.”
The Israeli government had offered a “compromise” yesterday, in which they would agree to continue dismantling the illegal outposts in the West Bank (which they had been doing to begin with) in return for a US promise to stop objecting publicly to the expansion of the other settlements.
The expansion of the settlements would be problematic for the Obama Administration as it presses for an “independent, democratic and contiguous Palestinian state.” The plan would involve territory swaps with the Israeli settlements, though Netanyahu has already rejected a cornerstone of the proposal: returning East Jerusalem to Palestinian control.
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