Israel expects to retain about 85 per cent of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories at the end of the negotiations, Yedioth Ahronoth said on Thursday. Citing sources in the US Congress, the newspaper estimated that Israel will keep control over all of the major settlement blocs.
Immediately after Israel's Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat left Washington, it is claimed, Secretary of State John Kerry phoned some of his friends in Congress, most of whom are pro-Israel, to feed back on the talks. It is said that the two sides not only discussed arrangements and measures regarding the negotiations, but they also discussed the expected land swap to ensure that the settlements will come under formal Israeli sovereignty. Kerry assured his friends that Israel's interests will be protected.
One congressman, described by the Israeli newspaper as a major friend of Israel, asked Kerry if the Palestinians would recognise Israel as a Jewish state. "One of my major goals is to establish a Jewish country for Jews," Kerry is alleged to have replied.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reported a senior official from the White House saying that by pushing the peace process forward the US aims to avoid a "dangerous" confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians at the meeting of the UN General Assembly in September. The official noted that the Palestinians have said several times that they would ask for recognition from the UN of a Palestine State on the 1967 borders.