Rabin hedges bets on settlements freeze

THE Israeli government announced a temporary freeze on all building in the occupied territories yesterday, but left unclear how far settlement on the lands seized by Israel after the Six-Day war would be permanently halted.

The freeze - imposed while the government assesses all its building needs - drew the wrath of Jewish settlers, who described it as 'a declaration of war'.

The announcement was clearly designed to persuade James Baker, the US Secretary of State, to start handing over to Israel the dollars 10bn in loan guarantees when he visits Jerusalem on Sunday. The loan guarantees were held back because of the previous Israeli government's settlement drive, which pushed the Jewish population in the occupied territories to about 100,000.

Until the victory of the Labour government three weeks ago, Washington's stated position on settlements was to demand a total and permanent freeze.

According to diplomatic sources, since the victory of the new Labour government, which is more positive about peace, the US will no longer insist on a blanket halt to building. Mr Baker will come to Jerusalem prepared to 'negotiate' with Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, about how much building should stop and where.

Palestinian leaders are certain to accuse the US of betrayal if it gives an inch on the demand for a total ban, and they may threaten not to enter a new round of peace talks. However, it is understood that the US has already decided not to insist on a halt to building in the Jordan Valley or in east Jerusalem, and may be ready to allow some building to continue in other areas, deemed by Mr Rabin to be necessary for security reasons.

The negotiation between Mr Rabin and Mr Baker about what should be halted will centre on Mr Rabin's distinction between 'political' settlements, which he is prepared to halt, and those necessary for security reasons, which he says must be 'enhanced'. His explanations of the 'political' and 'security' distinction have been vague and contradictory.

According to a report in yesterday's Jerusalem Report magazine, Mr Rabin's definitions would allow an end to building in about 100 of the 140-odd settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But Western diplomats are bracing themselves for a much less generous offer. In what diplomatic sources describe as their 'worst-case scenario' Mr Rabin will offer to halt building permanently in fewer than half the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Labour leader has spoken of the need to continue building along the 'confrontation lines' and in 'greater Jerusalem'. But he has not described what he means by either.

It is clear he includes the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights as 'confrontation lines'. But Mr Rabin has been unclear about whether he also includes the old Green Line between the West Bank and Israel. If he does include the Green Line several large settlements which run near it will be spared the freeze - along with the 25 settlements in the Jordan Valley and the handful in the Golan Heights.

The worst case also assumes that Mr Rabin is taking a very broad interpretation of 'greater Jerusalem'. Experts believe that Mr Rabin may believe that it now extends several kilometres beyond the municipal boundary.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor