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Radio: Israel wants to annex fourth settlement bloc
Published Sunday 19/01/2014 (updated) 21/01/2014 13:57
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Palestinian youths (foreground) and Israeli settlers (background)
from the nearby settlement of Ofra clash following a demonstration
against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel on May 3,
2013 in the West Bank village of Deir Jarir (AFP/File Abbas Momani)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told US Secretary of State John Kerry that he wants to annex a fourth bloc of West Bank settlements, army radio reported on Sunday.

Until now, Israel has always spoken of its intention to annex three blocs of settlements in any future agreement with the Palestinians: the Etzion bloc in the south; Maale Adumim to the east of Jerusalem; and the Ariel bloc in the north.

The report said Netanyahu was proposing that Israel also keep hold of a group of settlements deep in the West Bank -- Beit El, Ofra and Psagot -- which lie to the north and east of Ramallah, the radio said.

A settlement bloc is an area where clusters of settlements have been established in relatively close proximity to one another, in which the majority of the West Bank's 367,000 settlers currently live.

If Israel was to keep hold of the "Beit El bloc" as well as the others, it would mean annexing a total of 13 percent of the occupied West Bank, the radio said, describing it as a "very large percentage" of the territory.

"In the negotiating room, Netanyahu is talking about 13 percent of territory," the radio's diplomatic correspondent Ilil Shahar said, quoting sources close to Netanyahu.

"Netanyahu is proposing to a (land) swap of three to four percent then paying for the rest," she said.

In previous rounds of negotiations, former prime minister Ehud Barak in 2001 spoke of Israel annexing six to eight percent, and in 2008, then premier Ehud Olmert spoke about seven percent.

The Palestinians want to keep Israel's annexation of land they want for a future state to an absolute minimum, and have spoken of a maximum land swap of about two percent.

Netanyahu's office refused to comment on the report.

Shaul Arieli, an expert on mapping and the future Israeli-Palestinian borders described the proposal as unfeasible.

"If we're really talking about 13 percent, we're talking about an idea that's a non-starter from the Palestinian point of view," he told the radio.

"Israel does not have the ability to compensate the Palestinians at that level, our potential for compensation is not more than three to four percent, and of course the idea of paying is unacceptable."

Israel and the Palestinians embarked upon a nine-month track of direct negotiations at the urging of US Secretary of State John Kerry, at the end of July, which appear to have made little progress.

Currently, Kerry's main focus is trying to get the sides to agree on a framework to guide the negotiations forward in the coming months.

Although the term "settlement bloc" has been used by Israeli leaders for years, the parameters of such areas have never been clearly defined, with the best indicator of their location being the looping route of the sprawling West Bank barrier.

The phrase is a euphemism for those settlements that are supposedly within the Israeli national "consensus" as being the areas that should and likely will remain part of Israel under any future peace agreement, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.
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1 ) E / Usa
19/01/2014 17:08
The Palestinians want to keep Israel's annexation of land they want for a future state to an absolute minimum, and have spoken of a maximum land swap of about two percent. i like this paragraph. its not important what palestinians want. Nothing is theirs so they should just sit, listen and follow commands and do what they are told.

2 ) Mitri I. Musleh / Canada
19/01/2014 17:23
With every minute passing, the one state solution seems the only way to go. When would the Palestinian people and their leaders get the idea and act accordingly?

3 ) Julie / USA
19/01/2014 18:00
let's get the language straight: "settlement bloc" is a euphemism for STOLEN PALESTINIAN LAND, all 'settlements' are ILLEGAL regardless of where they're located and the zionist thugs who live there are CRIMINAL IZRAELI SQUATTERS, too many of whom are brutal terrorists. fortunately, this insane land proposal is beyond unthinkable for Palestinians, it will never fly.

4 ) Mel / USA
19/01/2014 19:05
Secretary Kerry? You do realize that extremist Zionism is pulling,what should be a peace-loving,tolerant Israel into a black hole of self-destruction,& doesn't care,either,what happens to its MILLIONS of neighbors,or the integrity(what's left)of its greedy or cowardly patrons(US,UK,EU).Such political,ideological madness is rooted in weakness & pathological delusion. So NO!NO! No more'annexation'(ethno-theocratic land-theft)&no more immunity for Zionism from international LAWS, or SANCTIONS!ENUF!

5 ) Gobby / UK
19/01/2014 19:09
Gobby / UK This is excellent news, hopefully kindergartens, schools, libraries, parks, sports facilities, hi-tech industrial parks, and advanced transport infrastructures will be included in the Havot Maon development. The Jordanians had these same barren hillsides and did nothing with them. The Jewish people on the other hand develop, build and progress.

6 ) Maureen / Australia
19/01/2014 20:21
Hope for the sake of Palestine, Mr Abbas is listening very carefully to the snake in the grass, Netanyahu, if he cares at all about the theft of Palestine from beneath his feet!

7 ) Colin Wright / USA
19/01/2014 20:55
...and then of course there's the Jordan Valley, and then there's the 78% of Palestine they've already taken, and then there's the fact that of course they would retain control of the airspace, retain policing powers, and be able to monitor all activities within the remaining Palestinian ghe...whoops, bantust...whoops...territory. 'Indian Reservations' doesn't work because Indians can leave, remain US citizens, etc. Israel has nothing so generous in mind.

8 ) Tibi / Tubas
19/01/2014 21:26
Whether they're annexed, or not, makes no difference, since -1- the Jews are on the land to stay, and -1- the land is under Jewish sovereignty to stay !!

9 ) that area is the CRADLE OF / THE JEWISH PEOPLE
19/01/2014 21:50
why should they give it to the Arabs?

10 ) How To Achieve / Nothing
19/01/2014 22:15
Continuing to Throw Stones, and Issuing Condemnations, rather than Starting and Completing Peace and Statehood Negotiations with Israel is the Best Way to ensure that "Palestine" Never Becomes A Real State.

11 ) Rami / Palestine
20/01/2014 08:04
#7 Not to mention that the Apartheid wall would constitute most of the final borders of Israel and well...we know what that's all about....not at all stopping "terrorism" as it is MAXIMIZING LAND THEFT and segregating Paelstinian populations from each other. So, some state its looking to be, huh?

12 ) Dear / Gobby
20/01/2014 11:17
Nobody is denying the fact that Jewish people can develop, build and progress. All we are asking is that you do it in your own country.

13 ) Brandy / Usa
20/01/2014 14:28
#12: By the time the negotiations are finished, they will be doing it in 'own country', because there won't be any 'Palestinian' land left. 78% already gone, now this 13% earmarked, plus the Jordan Valley, ..... - Israel PLEASE have a heart, leave some land left for Palestine!

14 ) @ Abbas / Pattern
20/01/2014 16:38
- ORIGINALLY, it was only THREE BLOCKS, that Israel intended to keep. - NOW, it is up to FOUR BLOCKS, that Israel intends to keep, and - SOON, it will be FIVE, THEN SIX, NEXT SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE, etc. IF YOU DON'T REACH A PEACE AGREEMENT with Israel, regardless of how difficult the compromises forced upon the PA-PLO !!!

15 ) Johnny benson / USA
20/01/2014 16:50
Why not...it's all theirs...from the start...the Arabs can go elsewhere.....

16 ) Geraldina / Canada
20/01/2014 17:46
@12 That's the point, the giant Islamic world with it's 1.5 billion population, does not want a Jewish state of Israel anywhere. Even if it was built on the north pole, they would still be fighting Jews, even if they had to learn to ski and learn to use a snowmobile.
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