Itongadol/AJN.- Prime minister breaks silence to domestic media during trip to US, promises to minimize number of settlements left out of agreement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would give up "some settlements" in the West Bank to help secure a peace agreement but would limit as much as he could the number of enclaves removed.
"It is clear that some of the settlements, some of them, will not be included in the agreement. That\’s clear. Everyone understands that. I will ensure the number will be as small as possible, as far as is possible, if we get there," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu\’s comments to Israel\’s Channel 2 television were his first in Hebrew to an expressly Israeli audience suggesting he would concede settlements for peace, though he made a similar commitment in English in a 2011 speech to the US Congress.
In May 2011 Netanyahu said for the first time he was prepared to give up settlements for peace though Palestinians at the time rejected other terms Israel had set for then stalled negotiations.
The current round of US-led negotiations, initiated by Secretary of State John Kerry in July of last year for a nine-month period, have yet to yield significant progress in bridging the disagreement between the two parties.
Despite the peace negotiations, Israel has intensified construction in the past year. Central Bureau of Statistics figures released on Monday showed the number of new construction projects in the settlements doubled to 2,534 in 2013, from 1,133 in 2012.