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Kerry was aware of latest settlement plans

January 30, 2014 at 11:31 am

Israeli newspaper Maariv has revealed that US Secretary of State John Kerry scolded Benjamin Netanyahu about Israel’s latest plans to expand settlements; they will, Kerry said, reduce the country’s legitimacy in the international arena. The secretary of state’s telephone call was an attempt to deflect Palestinian criticisms of settlement expansion.

Maariv portrayed this news as if the US is capable of being an honest broker in the conflict, but the truth of the matter is entirely different. In reality, Secretary Kerry was well aware of Israel’s plans to expand settlements in Jerusalem prior to resuming negotiations and he did not object.

According to the newspaper, Thursday’s telephone call came after a three-way conversation between Kerry, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu on Monday. Kerry is alleged to have urged Netanyahu to halt all settlement expansion for the first nine months of negotiations. This, said Maariv, was despite the fact that he already knew about the Israeli plans for 1,200 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem as well as another 920 units in the Gilo colony-settlement.

According to Israeli officials, Kerry’s criticism of settlement expansion was lip service for the Palestinians’ benefit.

The newspaper added that Netanyahu’s willingness to release Palestinian prisoners stemmed from his desire to gain American support on more important issues, such as settlements and Israel’s position on Iran’s nuclear programme. Netanyahu stressed that his goal is to attract American interest and ask for their support. Furthermore, Netanyahu wants to reach a consensus with the US on ending the sanctions imposed by the European Union, as well as any future attempt by the Palestinians to go to the UN.

Despite these reports, Israeli officials told Maariv that they are not ruling out the potential for disagreement with the United States based on the progress of negotiations, which might be delayed due to Israeli attitudes and positions.