Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly offered to cede most Israeli settlements in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority on the condition that Israel would be allowed to enter into a longterm lease for the land, thereby avoiding the eviction of hundreds of thousands of settlers.
The prime minister proposed the arrangement to US Secretary of State John Kerry during a recent meeting, according to a Channel 2 report Tuesday. Under such a deal, Israel would essentially pay for the right to remain in the West Bank for some 40 years.
The Palestinian negotiating team is said to have rejected the offer.
The Knesset is expected to vote Wednesday on a preliminary bill aimed at preventing Israel from annexing territories in the West Bank before reaching a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians, Maariv reported.
“The law does not harm Israel in any way and only serves to encourage the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve the conflict, but only as part of a two-state solution, since any other solution would be devastating to the future and security of Israel,” said Hilik Bar who sponsored the bill.
“Unilateral annexation of territory by Israel would bring about the death of negotiations and to our efforts to achieve peace between both peoples.”
In late December, Likud MK Miri Regev introduced legislation to annex the Jordan Valley and its access routes.
Netanyahu told his Likud Knesset faction Monday that “there is no American framework document yet,” and that even if it could be agreed upon, it would not be binding on the sides, reported Channel 2. Netanyahu also assured the Likud MKs that he had not given in to American pressure for more flexible positions regarding the fate of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, and said he was only too aware of the consequences of dismantling settlements in the absence of a viable peace accord.