Tuesday 21 October 2014

US peace deal allows most Jewish settlers to stay in West Bank

Inna Lazareva Tel Aviv

Published 01/02/2014 | 02:30

John Kerry with Martin Indyk last month

A framework for the US-backed Middle East peace deal will allow up to 80pc of Jewish settlers to remain in the West Bank, it was claimed last night.

Closely-guarded details of how Washington sees the terms of a final settlement were disclosed in a meeting between American Jewish leaders and Martin Indyk, a senior US official involved in the negotiations.

The framework envisages that the settlers, whose presence is viewed by the international community as an illegal incursion on Palestinian land, would remain where they were as part of a proposed land-swap deal with the Palestinians.

The deal would redraw borders so that 80pc of the settlers' homes would be redesignated as being in Israel, while other parcels of land would be handed back to Palestinian control.

Mr Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, is also understood to have said that any final peace treaty could also provide compensation for victims on both sides of the historic conflict.

Sources present at the meeting said he had told them that as well as compensation for Palestinian refugees – long a key demand from the Palestinian negotiators – it would look at a similar package for Jews who fled Arab persecution.

Many Jews fled to Israel from other parts of the Middle East after the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, when hostility increased against them.

Another key point of the framework would be that Israel would be allowed to retain a role in maintaining security along the West Bank's border with neighbouring Jordan.

In order to make sure that the future Palestine does not become another Gaza-like threat to Israel, Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu wants to control the future Palestinian state's outer border.

The new security arrangements would see a zone created with hi-tech fences equipped with sensors and drone surveillance planes flying overhead.

ANONYMOUS

Details of Mr Indyk's conversations during a conference call with the Jewish leaders were reported in the Israeli press yesterday, which quoted anonymous sources present at the meeting.

However, Mr Indyk later denied giving any specific figures about the percentage of Jewish settlers whose homes would be declared to be part of Israel.

"Given this is an ongoing process and these decisions have not yet been made, at no point did Ambassador Indyk make a prediction of the final contents of a framework", said Jen Psaki, a US State Department spokesperson.

The fact that Mr Indyk gave the details to Jewish leaders in the US has been interpreted as one aspect of a drive to garner greater international support for the US-led peace effort, which is headed by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mr Kerry hopes to win backing for the framework from both sides within coming weeks, and will continue talks throughout the rest of the year. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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