Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is using his meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry to persuade him that Israel must maintain settlement blocs and areas of national and strategic importance, Netanyahu said Monday in a closed door meeting with Likud MKs.
Netanyahu said he was succeeding in persuading Kerry to accept many of Israel's positions.
“There is an understanding about Israel's need to keep settlement blocs and areas of historical significance like Hebron and Beit El,” sources close to Netanyahu quoted him as saying following the closed-door meeting.
Right-wing MKs received an impression from Netanyahu that he had no problem giving up uninhabited land and was ready to give up settlements that are not in blocs or nationally or strategically important. Following questioning by MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Moshe Feiglin, Netanyahu said he disagreed with them about annexation in the West Bank.
"I know there are some of you who favor annexing land together with the Palestinians, but I don't want to control 1.5-2 million Palestinians and neither do most Israelis,” he said, according to sources close to him who were in the meeting.
When Hotovely asked Netanyahu about Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's support for exchanges of territory and populations, the prime minister said “That is the foreign minister's opinion and has been for quite some time.
When asked whether it had been raised in talks with Kerry, Netanyahu said he saw no benefit in discussing the issue. But a source close to Liberman said it had been raised and that Kerry was not ruling it out as an option.
Regarding security, Netanyahu said that he and the Americans do not want the West Bank to “look like Afghanistan.”