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Israeli team heads to Washington to continue talks on settlement construction

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The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and other senior advisers have flown to Washington in order to continue talks with the US administration over an agreement regarding Israeli settlement construction.

Yoav Horowitz, who is the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, is being accompanied to the US by foreign policy advisor Jonathan Schachter and a lawyer from the Prime Minister’s Office who deals with the settlements. They will work alongside Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, to make progress with the White House over settlement building.

Last week, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, visited Israel, Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Jordan in order to investigate the possibility of progress in peace talks. Following a meeting with Netanyahu a joint statement was released which said the two had made “progress on the issue of Israeli settlement construction, following up on President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agreement in Washington last month to work out an approach that reflects both leaders’ views.”

The statement added that the discussions are continuing.

Horowitz’s visit to Washington is the next step in this process, as Netanyahu yesterday flew to China for an official visit. Media reports say the fact that Horowitz did not accompany Netanyahu demonstrates the importance of his visit to Washington.

Netanyahu told his cabinet last week: “We’re in the middle of a process of dialogue with the White House… to get to an agreed-upon policy on construction in the settlements.”

During Netanyahu’s visit to the White House last month, US President Donald Trump said at a joint press conference that Israel should “hold back” on settlement construction.

Since then, Netanyahu has sought to delay debate over draft legislation to annex the West Bank city of Ma’aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, which is spearheaded by two coalition members, MK Yoav Kish (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home). However, Netanyahu last week said that he stands by the commitment he made to build a new settlement for residents recently evacuated from the West Bank outpost of Amona.