Netanyahu won't move 'even one' settler for US peace plan

Published April 6, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) says if eviction is mooted he would pull out of any future dialogues. ─ AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) says if eviction is mooted he would pull out of any future dialogues. ─ AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has told US President Donald Trump that Israel would not remove “even one person” from a settlement as part of a future peace plan.

“I said there shouldn't be the removal of even one settlement” from the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu told Israel's Channel 13 television in an interview broadcast Friday.

Washington is expected to unveil proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace sometime after Tuesday's Israeli election in which Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term.

The Israeli prime minister was asked if he was familiar with the details of the US plan, replying he knew “what should be in it.”

Along with settlements, “our ongoing control of all the territory west of the Jordan” River was a further condition set by the Israeli premier for any US-led peace initiative.

Netanyahu said he informed Trump not “even one person” would be evicted from a settlement, telling Channel 13 he doubted such a request would be made.

If such a measure is tabled, Israel would pull out of Washington's plan according to Netanyahu.

Settlements built on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War are deemed illegal by the international community and their ongoing construction is seen as a major barrier to peace.

More than 400,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements, while a further 200,000 live in settlements in occupied east Jerusalem.

While Netanyahu has a close relationship with the US president, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas cut off relations with Washington after Trump declared the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel's capital in December 2017.

The Palestinians say the US government's pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between them and Israel, while US officials argue their plan will be fair.

Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014, when a drive for a deal by Barack Obama's administration collapsed.

Netanyahu said Friday his position on settlers had also been relayed to the former US president.

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