US says reported 'settlement borders' proposal new to its ears

According to official, if proposal sincere "it would seriously enhance Israel's diplomatic credibility."

The South Lawn of the White House (photo credit: REUTERS)
The South Lawn of the White House
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON -- The United States has not heard of a plan by Israel to define the settlement blocs it would be allowed to retain under a future two-state solution with the Palestinians, before resuming direct negotiations toward final agreement, one US official said on Tuesday.
The official was responding to reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made the proposal to the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in a meeting last week.
According to the report, published in Haaretz, Netanyahu seeks to restart talks with the Palestinians and reach an understanding on the settlement blocs that Israel would keep, so that Israel could continue building in those agreed-upon territories.
"We are aware of the press reports about what may have been discussed in a private meeting, but we have not yet heard anything directly from either side so we are not in a position to comment," State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said in an e-mail.
One European official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that, if Netanyahu is serious about defining borders for a two-state solution, he should freeze construction outside of existing settlement blocs.
"It would seriously enhance Israel's diplomatic credibility," the source said.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.