The Israeli cabinet is to consider a U.S. package of incentives in exchange for a settlement construction freeze in the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday briefed his Cabinet about U.S. incentives for a fresh 90-day construction ban as a Peace Now report showed settlers have been building at a furious pace.
As Ministers heard details of the far-ranging package of U.S. proposals in exchange for a one-off moratorium, the Palestinians said they had not received any official word of Washington's offer to Israel.
The package involves a 90-day freeze, which would not cover construction in east Jerusalem but would include all building begun since September 26 when the previous 10-month moratorium expired, a source close to the negotiations said.
In exchange, the United States would pledge not to ask for a further freeze, would deliver to Israel another 20 F-35 fighter jets worth $3 billion dollars, and would pledge to block any international efforts to force a political settlement on Israel.
Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday confirmed that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had presented him with the details when they met in New York on Thursday, but stressed that the package had not yet been finalised.
“It is not yet final, it is still being formulated by our team and that of the Americans,” he told reporters at the start of the Cabinet meeting. “If and when the proposal is completed, I shall bring it to the appropriate government forum, in this case, the security Cabinet.” Shortly before the Cabinet meeting, settlement watchdog Peace Now published a report showing that in the seven weeks since the end of the moratorium, Jewish settlers have started building 1,649 new homes — more than making up for the 10-month ban. Figures showed that since the freeze ended, new homes had been started in 63 settlements and, in more than two-thirds of cases, settlers had begun laying the foundations.