Senior American and Israeli officials agreed to start negotiations to define the boundaries within which Israel is allowed to do construction work in the West Bank.
The U.S. administration is establishing a team of experts to begin working on the issue after receiving relevant data from the Israeli side.
The U.S. already demanded from Israel to remove unauthorized West Bank settler’s outposts and freeze construction in authorized ones.
Israel pledged that construction will continue only within areas that are already built up.
Analysts in Washington believe that the establishment of the team indicates that the U.S. administration has decided to deal seriously and in detail with the issue of construction in the settlements.
In reality, and in the absence of Israeli-Palestinian talks, American and Israel teams will negotiate the future borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state.
Israel is trying to convince the American Administration to wants to focus efforts on isolated settlements and to postpone discussion on the larger settlement blocs, which Israel seeks to annex.
Israel expects that the Americans will be more flexible towards the construction in big settlement blocks because in the American letter of assurances, the U.S. endorsed Israel’s demand to keep in hand major West Bank settlement blocks.
Top U.S. National security officials Steve Hadley and Elliot Abrams will arrive in Jerusalem on Monday and will meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to discuss advancement of reforms in the Palestinian Authority.
On Tuesday the envoys will discuss with Israeli officials the assurances Israel gave the U.S. with regard to the dismantling of unauthorized settler’s outposts.
Hadley and Abrams will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
Israel is still wavering over the issue of dismantling unauthorized outposts, claiming legal and security obstacles still exist. The Americans repeatedly expressed displeasure with Israel’s position.
In the Oslo accord Israel committed to refrain from building beyond a circle that extends 50 meters from the most remote from the center construction in all settlements, but in practice continued with construction and with establishing new ones.
Palestinians accuse the U.S. with violating the terms sated in the road map, which states that issues related to the demarcation of borders between Israel and the future Palestinians state will be subject to negotiations between both sides.
The American move apparently came to encounter the effect of the international court of justice ruling, which considered the construction of the separation wall as illegal demanding for Israel to dismantle it.
Both the U.S. Administration and Israel are interested in creating the impression that the peace process can move through the disengagement plan and through American interventions, in order to avoid using the court ruling to bring the issue back to the United Nations.
Both Israel and the United States were angered by the ICJ ruling.