Netanyahu heads to US as settlement row rumbles on

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to meet top US administration figures in Washington next week after sharp international condemnation yesterday of his government's most recent plans to expand a Jewish settlement.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said Mr Netanyahu had offered the US "useful and productive" proposals to defuse one of the most serious diplomatic rows between the two countries in decades.

But there was no sign yet that these went far enough to meet Washington's demands for measures to repair the damage caused by last week's announcement by Israel that it intends building another 1,600 homes in the ultra-orthdox Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

The announcement last week prompted the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to say he would not take part in freshly arranged indirect "proximity" negotiations with Israel. Mrs Clinton is expected to meet Mr Netanyahu when he goes to Washington on Monday for the annual conference of the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC.

"We all condemned the announcement, and we all are expecting both parties to move toward the proximity talks and to help create an atmosphere in which those talks can be constructive," she said after a Moscow meeting of the US-EU-UN-Russia Quartet on the Middle East.

The US presidential envoy, George Mitchell, will hold talks with the Israeli Prime Minister here tomorrow about the US demands but a senior Israeli official said he could not confirm a Fox News report that Barack Obama had scheduled a meeting with Mr Netanyahu on Tuesday.

The Quartet also provoked a dismissive rebuttal from Israel's right wing Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, by urging talks designed to lead to a Palestinian state within two years. While reiterating calls for a full settlement freeze, it applauded the determination of Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, to complete the internal preparations of a state within that period.

Mr Lieberman, who has said in the past that he cannot foresee a peace deal with the Palestinians over the next 15 years, said in Brussels: "The Quartet is ignoring the last 16 years of Israeli attempts, and is giving the Palestinians the impression that they can achieve their demands by continuing to refuse direct negotiations under false pretexts."

The US is widely believed to have demanded last week that Israel rescinds the Ramat Shlomo plan, enacts confidence-building measures ahead of the talks, and promises that the talks will discuss "core" issues between the two sides, said to be borders, refugees and the future of Jerusalem.

A statement by Mr Netanyhau's office said that there was "a real effort by Israel to aid the US administration in renewing negotiations though trust-building measures with the Palestinian Authority".

Israel launched six air strikes – one reportedly wounding two Palestinians near the Egyptian border – in Gaza after the killing of a Thai worker by a Qassam rocket on Thursday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine