Iran General NewsIsraelis to hold talks with US on Iran, settlements

Israelis to hold talks with US on Iran, settlements

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ImageAFP: An Israeli government delegation left for London for discussions with US officials on settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank and Iran's nuclear programme, officials said.

ImageJERUSALEM (AFP) — An Israeli government delegation left for London for discussions with US officials on settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank and Iran's nuclear programme, officials said.

The move came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that Israel would have to tear down unauthorised settlements in the West Bank in order to win US backing for its stance on arch-foe Iran.

The Israeli delegation is headed by Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor, a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The two delegations will discuss putting in place joint teams that will discuss the question of the Iranian nuclear programme and settlement outposts," he said.

He did not say which US officials the delegation would meet or why the venue for the talks was London.

Netanyahu told his right-wing Likud party on Monday that Iran's nuclear drive constituted the biggest threat to Israel, local media reported.

"My job, first of all, is to ensure the future of the state of Israel — that's the first thing, before all else," Netanyahu told the MPs, according to the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

Towards that end, the hawkish premier told the MPs that the government will have to dismantle settlement outposts in the West Bank, a move demanded by Israel's main ally Washington.

"Soon we will have to take down outposts," Yediot quoted Netanyahu as saying, referring to settlements in the West Bank not authorised by the Israeli government.

The international community considers all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal.

"The situation today is not like the situation back in 1996 and 1999 (during Netanyahu's first term as premier). We mustn't waste time."

"In this reality, we have to make decisions. We are going to have to subordinate our priorities to existential needs and reach as broad a national unity as possible to repel the danger. Our relations with the United States are important and we must preserve them," he was quoted as saying.

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