With Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, tensions with Israel are set to soar again on reports in the Israeli press that the US will demand a “partial settlement freeze” in the occupied West Bank.
The settlement expansions have gone well beyond what anyone expected during the peace talks, and every time the talks seem to make even a sliver of progress the Netanyahu government announces a massive expansion to placate members of his government opposed to peace.
The US demands are said to seek a halt in construction in isolated settlements around the West Bank, while allowing Israel to continue expansion in the major blocs it expects to keep in a deal.
While both Israel and the PA agree that some “land swaps” will be necessary and Israel will doubtless keep some settlement blocs, the Netanyahu government’s expansions across several other areas have led many in the PA to fear they are negotiating on an ever dwindling portion of the West Bank, and the longer it takes the more Israel will have grabbed.
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