Report: Kerry plan calls for settlement freeze, prisoner release

According to 'Al-Hayat,' the plan calls for economic development in the Palestinian territories in three phases.

July 7, 2013 01:28
2 minute read.
Kerry, with Abbas, makes a short statement for reporters during recent visit.

kerry, abbas face reporters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s plan to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority calls for a cessation of settlement construction outside settlement blocs in the West Bank and the release of 103 Palestinian prisoners, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Saturday.

According to the paper, the plan calls for economic development in the Palestinian territories in three phases.

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The report comes in the midst of a renewed US push to rekindle direct Israeli-Palestinian talks that have been largely frozen since December 2008.

Kerry completed his fifth visit since March to Israel and the Palestinian territories last Sunday and is scheduled to return. No exact date has been set for that trip.

There has been no formal announcement of terms for renewed talks, but there have been repeated media reports of the possibility that Israel would release Palestinian prisoners and/or agree to some kind of a settlement freeze.

According to Al-Hayat, the new plan envisages the re-launching of the peace talks for a period of six to nine months, during which the two sides would discuss final status issues.

During the negotiations, Israel would freeze construction in settlements that are outside settlement blocs and start releasing Palestinians imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo Accords within six months, the paper added, quoting Western diplomatic sources.

The economic aspect of Kerry’s plan, the paper said, calls for attracting investments worth $4 billion in the Palestinian economy. Kerry already announced the $4 billion incentive plan at the World Economic Forum in May.

The report said that Israel would be required to allow the Palestinians to build in the West Bank’s Area C, which is under full Israeli control.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the report. Kerry has asked Israelis and Palestinian officials to be silent about details regarding renewed talks.

The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria spokesman Yigal Delmonti said that settlers did not know of any impending building freeze in the settlements.

A de facto freeze on the publication of tenders for Jewish homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem has been in place since January.

The Palestinians have insisted that they will not hold direct negotiations with Israel until it halts West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.

Israel has refused to cede to that request. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently called on the Palestinians to hold talks without preconditions.

Israel imposed a 10- month moratorium on new Jewish West Bank housing starts from November 2009 to September 2010. But that temporary moratorium did not lead to renewed negotiations.

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