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Israel to retain 85% of settlement blocs, Kerry reportedly says
Congressman who spoke to secretary of state after initial Washington meetings says he sounded optimistic about peace talks
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John Kerry estimated in conversations with Congressmen that Israel will retain 85% of the settlement blocs in a future peace deal, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

 

According to the report, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators who recently met in Washington to discuss timetables for negotiations, also discussed the fate of West Bank settlements and the possibility of land swaps.

 

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Immediately after Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat left Washington, Kerry phoned some of his friends at the House of Representatives to report about the talks.

 

In separate phone calls Kerry assured the congressmen, most of whom were pro-Israel, that Israel's interests are being safeguarded. According to one congressman, Kerry said he believed 85% of Israel's biggest settlement blocs will remain under Israeli sovereignty. He added that the US administration had safeguarded Israel's interests.

 

The congressman, who described himself a true friend of Israel, asked Kerry whether the Palestinians will ever recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to which the secretary of state reportedly replied "that's one of my goals. A homeland for the Jewish people."

 

The congressman got the impression that all core issues had been raised during the Washington meetings, including the question when to discuss the status of Jerusalem. According to him, Kerry was optimistic and said "We had a good start."

 

 

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