US assent to settlements denied

The Yediot Ahronoth daily has quoted the US ambassador to Israel as saying there is no understanding between Israel and the US about leaving large West Bank settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty.

    Maale Adumin in the West Bank is the largest Jewish settlement

    Spokesmen for the US Embassy and the Israeli government weren't immediately available for comment on the unsourced newspaper report citing a recent conversation between the US envoy, Dan Kurtzer, and Israeli Foreign Ministry cadets.

    The newspaper on Friday also cited Kurtzer as saying he expects Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government to fall after Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank settlements this summer.

    In April, breaking with long-standing US policy, President Bush said it was unrealistic to expect Israel to disband all large Jewish settlements in the West Bank, or to return to the borders it held before capturing the territory in the 1967 Mideast war, in a final peace deal.

    Miscommunication

    But Yediot said Kurtzer said Israelis misconstrued conversations with the US administration on the settlement blocs because of a failure to understand English-language nuances.

    Sharon's government plans to
    built 3500 more settler homes

    He singled out the path that Israel is designing for the barrier it is building along and in the West Bank, which is incorporating the largest Jewish settlement, Maale Adumim, on the Israeli side.

    Yediot quoted Kurtzer as saying that no such understandings were reached with Washington on this score. Maale Adumim again became an issue this week after Israel revived a plan to build 3500 housing units there.

    Palestinians say the expansion endangers peace prospects and isolates east Jerusalem, their intended capital. In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Israeli officials have told US envoys that a decision on housing construction was not final.

    Yediot said Kurtzer also told the Foreign Ministry cadets that he expects the Gaza evacuation to go through, but doesn't think Sharon's government will serve out its entire term, scheduled to end in November 2006.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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