Israel: No Slowdown in Construction, Even If Talks Restart

YERUSHALAYIM -
President Donald Trump’s adviser Jason Greenblatt. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Despite reports to the contrary, Israel has not committed to halting or even slowing down construction in Yehudah and Shomron if and when negotiations start up again with the Palestinian Authority, the Prime Minister’s Office insisted Wednesday. The statement came after a report in the London-based Al Hayat newspaper that claims that talks between the two sides are imminent.

Those talks, according to the report, will come at the behest of U.S. President Donald Trump, who will soon announce that talks are to begin under the aegis of the United States. The report quoted PA sources who met with U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt, who told them that President Trump would announce a new U.S. effort to bring the sides together. Attending the meeting were Greenblatt, U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.

The negotiations will be kicked off by a summit in Washington, with Israel and the PA sending delegations to establish the agenda. The actual talks are expected to take up to two years, and will include all issues, including borders, water rights, security issues, settlements and Yerushalayim.

According to the report, President Trump is interested in achieving a series of separate agreements, with each issue to be discussed separately. This way, the easier issues can be resolved, providing more motivation and impetus for the sides to reach an agreement on the more difficult issues. The report also claimed that, as a “gesture” to push the talks ahead, Israel had agreed to “slow down” construction in Yehudah and Shomron, a contention denied Wednesday by the Prime Minister’s Office.