When Israel agreed to Palestinian detainee releases in return for a one-off expansion of settlements, they split the releases into several stages, and each time have followed up with another expansion. The next releases are scheduled for December 29.
The US has been paying close enough attention to the story so far to know what’s coming next, and is trying to get out in front of that, warning Israel against announcing any new settlement construction and attributing it to the releases.
Nominally, Israel says the expansions are necessary to keep far-right coalition members, many of whom are opposed to Palestinian statehood in general, from revolting and killing the talks. In practice, Israel has been expanding often on virtually any pretext, most recently to spite the US for making a deal with Iran.
The US “warning” to Israel and demands to Palestinians to accept a series of demands from Israel both reflect talks that are on the brink of collapse, and a US determination to see them continue, if only for appearances’ sake.
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