President Trump’s diplomatic envoy Jason Greenblatt last week proposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu a deal that included tacit American approval of construction in eastern Jerusalem and the settlement blocks at rates to be coordinated between Washington and Jerusalem – in exchange for a complete halt on construction outside the settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria, Ha’aretz reported Thursday, citing an Israeli source familiar with the talks. According to the same report, Netanyahu disagreed with the demand for a public freeze of construction outside the blocks.
One of the main topics in the ongoing negotiations between the White House and Jerusalem is the commitment given by Netanyahu to the evacuated residents of Amona to build them a new settlement. Netanyahu has reiterated several times publicly, including on social media, his determination to keep his promise. This point remains at a stalemate in the talks.
On Saturday night, according to Ha’aretz, Netanyahu sent the Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office Yoav Horowitz on a secret mission to Washington, to try and bridge the gap on settlements. Horowitz was accompanied by Netanyahu’s Political Advisor Jonathan Schechter and a legal expert working for the settlements desk in the PM’s office.
According to Ha’aretz, Horowitz, along with Ambassador Ron Dermer, met on Tuesday with Jason Greeblatt and other White House and State Dept. senior officials to continue the talks. So far it appears that Greenblatt has been insisting on a general “slowdown” in developing the settlements as a guiding principle, but the exact terms are not ironclad.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu told Israeli reporters in Beijing that construction in eastern Jerusalem has not been part of the negotiations with the White House on restricting settlements construction. The discussion, according to Netanyahu, is over Judea and Samaria.