Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jason Greenblatt, March 13, 2017.

After four days of talks between the US and Israel on the future of the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise, the two sides issued a joint statement saying the issues remain “exceptionally complicated” and that the talks have been serious and beneficial. In other words, if they had something new to announce they would have announced it.

The joint statement said that “A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential. The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction.”

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President Trump’s negotiator Jason Greenblatt and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz led the talks, which came only a few days following Greenblatt’s visit to Israel and the PA. One thing the two sides have said they agreed on was that, for now, the Netanyahu government will be minding the Trump Administration’s concerns on settlements construction and expansion. Which probably means an unofficial settlement freeze for the foreseeable future – even though everybody connected to the talks is denying it.

In fact, a senior Trump administration official told the Wall Street Journal that “the notion that Israelis have rebuffed proposals…none of it is correct. […] Nobody is asking for a freeze here—the president has made clear he has some concerns in the context of how we can advance…toward a genuine and lasting peace for the Israelis and Palestinians.”

So, it’s a freeze.

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