Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Israel Plans New Settlement Push Despite Threat to Peace Talks

Israel plans to announce a push for more construction in Jewish settlements when it frees two dozen Palestinian prisoners next week, an Israeli official said on Wednesday, in a move that could jeopardise U.S.-brokered peace talks.

Palestinians have said any further settlement expansion could scuttle the negotiations, which resumed in July after intensive shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Talks ran aground in 2010 over the same issue.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to pledge more settlement building, often timing the announcement of these plans to offset the anger of far-right political partners at Israel’s release of Palestinians jailed for deadly attacks.

“Israel will declare new building in the settlements next week,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He would not say how many units were planned or where.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted at new settlement plans as well during a visit to a military base where he told reporters:

“I think it is our right to build, certainly according to our understandings and agreements with the Americans. And in accordance with that, we shall continue to build.”

Israel has said it will free two dozen Palestinian prisoners on Dec. 29, the third batch of inmates released since August.

In all, 104 long-serving Palestinian inmates will go free, once a fourth group of prisoners is released at a later time.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters on Dec. 18 that the peace talks would definitely fail if Israel continued to expand its settlements on land seized in a 1967 war. He said that since negotiations started in July, Israel had announced plans to build some 5,992 new housing units.

The negotiations have made no clear signs of progress on core conflict issues, but Kerry has expressed hopes of achieving a deal by April. Erekat said he thought it would take a year to draft any agreement.

Netanyahu said in a speech a week ago he could not promise a deal would be achieved, adding “it doesn’t only depend on us.”

The peace talks have also been dogged by a rise in violence in the past few months, with at least 19 Palestinians and four Israelis killed in occupied territory since the negotiations began.

In the latest incidents, a Gaza sniper shot dead an Israeli civilian contractor repairing a border fence on Tuesday, and Israel retaliated with air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, one of which killed a three-year-old Palestinian girl.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.