Netanyahu’s moves stoke debate on intentions

Offer to freeze West Bank settlements seen as political non-starter

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to freeze the development of Jewish settlements in the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The offer was instantly rejected but has sparked debate about Netanyahu’s intentions. Israeli analysts and former diplomats disagree about what the prime minister was hoping to achieve by raising the issue in parliament’s opening day of winter session Monday. So far, it is believed that the offer was aimed either at keeping talks with the Palestinians alive and his coalition partners in check, or at trying to push the burden of failure to the Palestinians and escape blame if the talks fail. This has also stoked uncertainty about his sincerity in negotiating a two-state solution. “[Netanyahu] knows it’s a non-starter,” says Yossi Alpher, a former peace process adviser to the Israeli government. “[The Palestinians] are prepared to end the conflict, but for them to accept Israel as a Jewish state is for them to negate their whole narrative.”

Christian Science Monitor

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