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U.S. Offers Israel Warplanes in Return for New Settlement Freeze

Netanyahu presents security cabinet with Clinton's incentive of 20 F-35 fighter planes and security guarantees in exchange for 90-day West Bank building moratorium.

by Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's seven-member inner cabinet discussed Saturday an offer by the United States to reinstate a freeze on West Bank Settlement construction in return for a package of incentives.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's seven-member inner cabinet discussed Saturday an offer by the United States to reinstate a freeze on West Bank Settlement construction in return for a package of incentives. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Netanyahu presented Saturday the U.S. offer, which was discussed by Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday, to the forum of seven.

According to the offer Israel would stop construction in the West Bank for 90 days. The freeze includes construction that began after the end of the first settlement moratorium on September 26.

The moratorium would not apply to construction in East Jerusalem. The U.S. will not ask Israel to extend the new moratorium when it expires.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, said the Americans had not officially informed the Palestinians about the details of the proposal, "but they know we have a major problem in not including east Jerusalem".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will put the U.S. plan before Palestinian decision-makers and call for an immediate session of Arab League officials before announcing an official decision, Erekat said.

In return for an Israeli freeze, the U.S. government would deliver 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a deal worth $3 billion. Moreover, if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is achieved, the U.S. would sign a comprehensive security agreement with Israel. The U.S. and Israel are to discuss the nature of the new security arrangements in the next few weeks.

According to "The Cable" blog, White House Middle East adviser Dan Shapiro told a group of American Jewish leaders on Friday that U.S. was committed to fighting delegitimization of Israel, and listed recent efforts to advocate on behalf of Israel.

Such efforts included: curbing actions by the United Nations on the Goldstone Report; blocking anti-Israel UN resolutions concerning the Gaza flotilla raid; defeating international resolutions aimed at exposing Israel's nuclear program at the International Atomic Energy Agency; and strengthening pressure on Iran and Syria in regards to their nuclear and proliferation activities.

U.S.-sponsored direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority broke down on September 26 when a 10-month Israeli freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank expired. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would not restart negotiations with Israel while settlement construction continues.

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