Netanyahu to update cabinet on US settlement talks

Israel’s Prime Minister is expected to update his security cabinet today on progress towards a deal with the US on settlement building.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will also discuss the latest developments in US efforts to promote a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

A decision is expected to be made at the meeting regarding the Prime Minister’s promise to build a new settlement for the families evicted from the Amona outpost earlier this year. Netanyahu made a commitment to begin the process by the end of March – although there is no agreement yet with the US administration.

Last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s chief of staff ,Yoav Horowitz, and Ambassador Ron Dermer held extensive talks in Washington to reach a new understanding with the Trump team. It is thought the promise to build a new community for Amona residents was one of the main obstacles to a wider agreement on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

Jason Greenblatt, the US special envoy for international negotiations, visited Jerusalem last night to attend a gathering of ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrating the lead up to the Passover festival. Earlier this week Greenblatt attended the Arab League summit in Jordan and held talks with Arab leaders.

The US embassy in Amman said: “Reaffirmed President Trump’s personal interest in achieving a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and his belief that such a peace agreement is not only possible, but would reverberate positively throughout the region and the world.”

In Washington DC, David Friedman was sworn in yesterday as the new ambassador to Israel. He is the first ambassador to take office in President Trump’s Administration.

The oath was administered by Vice President Mike Pence, who referred to Israel as the US’s “most cherished ally”. He added: “David, you literally were born for this job. It is because of families like yours that the Jewish people are such a beautiful thread in the fabric of this nation.”

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